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ARCHITECTURE 

AND 

FINE  ARTS  LIBRARY 


Stratford  Hall 


STRATFORD  HALL 

The  Great  House  oj  the  Lees 

By  ETHEL  ARMES 

WITH  AN  INTRODUCTION  BY 
FRANKLIN  D.  ROOSEVELT 


/n fircv 


RICHMOND  • VIRGINIA 
GARRETT  AND  MASSIE  • INCORPORATED 
MCMXXXVI 


COPYRIGHT,  1936,  BY 
GARRETT  & MASSIE,  INCORPORATED 
RICHMOND,  VIRGINIA 


X t/77^ 
a , 9- 


MANUFACTURED  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES 


TO 

THE  PRESIDENT 
AND 

BOARD  OF  DIRECTORS 
OF 

THE  ROBERT  E.  LEE  MEMORIAL  FOUNDATION 

Whose  devoted  work  for  Stratford  Hall  conserves 
the  record  of  a great  family,  re-creates  a 
manner  of  living  long  since  gone, 
and  bears  a message  from 
the  past  to  the 
future. 


Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2015 


https://archive.org/details/stratfordhalltheOOrich 


PREFACE 


p*  |[  SHIS  book  records  the  history  of  the  men  and  women  who  were 
the  owners  and  occupants  of  Stratford  over  a period  of  more  than 
two  hundred  years.  It  is  a document  of  human  lives  and  char- 
acters rather  than  a formal  historical  treatise  or  an  architectural  or  tech- 
nical record  of  the  restoration  of  the  Great  House.  The  desire  to  write 
such  a book  came  to  me  when  1 first  saw  Stratford  in  the  spring  of  1928. 
I wanted  to  know  the  kind  of  men  the  Lees  of  Stratford  were  aside  from 
their  public  lives;  to  see  pictures  of  the  eighteenth  century  neighbor- 
hood and  plantation  life  around  Stratford  and  learn  what  relationship 
the  men  and  their  house  bore  to  the  county,  as  well  as  to  colony  and 
state;  how  they  treated  their  servants  and  slaves;  what  they  thought 
about  books  and  religion.  I wanted  to  know  about  the  women  they 
loved  and  married,  or  loved  and  did  not  marry — and  also  of  their  com- 
panionship with  their  children. 

Only  through  knowledge  of  these  things  could  the  stature  of  each 
man  be  determined,  his  real  nature  and  influence  discerned  and  gauged. 
The  intimate  personal  record  of  a man,  his  "private  life”  as  it  is  curiously 
termed,  inevitably  explains  and  illumines  his  public  life  so  that  the  two 
are  essentially  one.  What  odd  psychology  ever  to  separate  them! 

Answers  came  to  all  my  questions,  not  quickly  of  course,  but  grad- 
ually during  the  next  seven  years.  Many  came  through  discoveries  of 
original  letters  and  documents.  Such  authentic  personal  records,  here- 
tofore unpublished,  form  part  of  the  substance  of  this  history.  In  these 
pages,  the  Lees  of  Stratford  speak  for  themselves  in  their  own  words. 

Their  letters,  directly  quoted  throughout  the  book,  are  supplemented 
by  court  records  and  other  documentary  proof.  My  interpretation  of 
the  lives  of  the  Lees  is  based  on  the  friendship  that  has  come  about 
from  long  familiarity  with  these  letters.  They,  of  course,  cannot  be 
quoted  in  full  within  the  limits  of  a single  volume. 

First  acknowledgments  for  assistance  in  the  preparation  of  the  book 
belong  to  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Yale  University, 
and  the  Library  of  Congress. 

The  Lee  Foundation  sponsored  the  historical  research  after  1928. 
During  one  year  of  this  period  the  active  cooperation  of  Yale  Univer- 
sity in  the  research  was  received  when  a grant  was  given  the  Foundation 
through  the  Mabel  Brady  Garvan  Institute  of  American  Arts  and  Crafts. 
Dr.  Everett  V.  Meeks,  Dean  of  the  Yale  University  School  of  the  Fine 
Arts,  appointed  me  to  continue  the  search  for  specific  records  that  would 
provide  the  historical  background  for  the  architectural  restoration  of 


IX 


Stratford.  Research  into  the  personal  histories  of  the  Lees,  in  which  I 
had  been  chiefly  interested,  was  therefore  subordinated  to  that  required 
by  the  archaeological  and  purely  architectural  demands  of  the  house, 
the  grounds  and  gardens.  Numerous  facts  came  to  light  in  the  re- 
newed examination  of  the  personal  letters  and  documents  and  additional 
original  source  material,  as  mentioned  in  Chapter  XXIV,  was  dis- 
covered. 

When  the  Lee  Foundation  began  preparations  in  1934  for  the  dedi- 
cation of  Stratford  as  a national  shrine,  I was  released  from  research 
proper  in  order  to  write  the  book  which,  in  the  meantime,  had  been 
requested  by  the  publishers.  The  Foundation  was  interested  in  having 
the  material  which  had  been  collected  over  the  six-year  period  made 
readily  available  and  a concrete  record  of  the  restoration  as  accom- 
plished up  to  the  dedication  year.  For  the  generous  aid  given  for  this 
purpose  I wish  to  express  my  appreciation  to  the  Lee  Foundation,  and 
especially  to  its  President  and  the  Book  Committee. 

The  names  of  the  Board  of  Directors  of  the  Lee  Foundation  are 
omitted  at  their  special  request.  Also  omitted  are  the  names  of  members 
of  the  national  and  state  advisory  boards  and  all  individuals  officially 
connected  in  a volunteer  capacity  with  the  Stratford  work  as  well  as 
those  of  cooperating  organizations,  large  and  small,  and  all  donors  and 
contributors  as  it  is  impracticable  in  a volume  of  this  size  to  include 
these  names. 

In  the  words  of  the  President  of  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foun- 
dation: 

"The  policy  the  Foundation  would  have  preferred  to  see  followed 
in  this,  the  dedication  edition  of  the  book  on  Stratford  Hall — would 
have  been  to  thank  individually  every  one  of  our  friends  and  helpers  of 
the  hundreds  scattered  over  the  land.  But  this  is  not  possible. 

"Some  of  these  who  have  given  so  freely  of  their  time  or  money  or 
both  are  powerful  and  nationally  known  organizations  with  tens  of  thou- 
sands of  members;  others  are  small  organizations  or  individuals  of 
modest  means  who  have  given  relatively  little  money  but  so  much  and 
so  cheeringly  in  proportion  to  their  resources  that  the  Foundation  is 
deeply  moved  by  the  thought  of  their  self-sacrifice.  Without  the  aid  re- 
ceived from  all  the  purchase  of  Stratford  could  not  have  been  effected 
or  the  restoration  of  house,  outbuildings  or  gardens,  accomplished  up 
to  its  present  stage.  The  Foundation  must  allow  this  work  at  Stratford 
itself  to  attest  the  generosity  of  the  thousands  who  have  made  it  possible. 

"Although,  in  this  record  of  the  history  of  Stratford  it  has  been  dif- 
ficult for  us  to  avoid  public  acknowledgment  of  the  contributions  that 


have  meant  so  much  to  the  Foundation,  especially  in  the  critical  years 
when  our  work  was  beginning,  unless  such  acknowledgment  can  be 
given  to  all,  we  have  come  to  the  conclusion  that  it  is  better  not  to  give 
such  record  to  any  among  the  large  number  who  have  so  generously 
helped  us,  even  though  we  feel  so  deeply  grateful. 

"It  would  require  a large  volume  in  itself  to  record  accurately  and 
comprehensively  the  names  and  donations  of  all  the  friends  of  Stratford. 
And  this  we  have  done  in  our  Book  of  the  Contributors  to  Stratford 
Hall.” 

From  the  Library  of  Congress  I have  received  every  conceivable  aid 
through  the  cooperation  given  by  Martin  A.  Roberts,  Superintendent  of 
Reading  Rooms.  When  books  of  the  original  Stratford  library  came  to 
light  in  Alexandria,  Virginia,  Hugh  Alexander  Morrison,  Custodian  of 
the  Representatives’  Reading  Room,  assisted  in  cataloguing  them  and 
quickly  located  missing  title  pages  and  other  lost  fragments  of  text  and 
illustrations  in  editions  available  only  in  the  British  Museum  or  in  the 
libraries  of  Yale  University  or  Harvard  College.  Mr.  Morrison  also  sup- 
plied some  valuable  information  about  Richard  Henry  Lee. 

When  the  privilege  of  examining  the  journal  written  by  Light-Horse 
Harry  Lee  was  kindly  extended  by  its  discoverer  and  owner,  Dr.  William 
Moseley  Brown,  at  his  Virginia  home,  and  the  aid  of  a Greek  and  Latin 
scholar  was  necessary,  Dr.  Harold  W.  Miller  of  the  Library  staff  assisted 
in  the  interpretation  of  this  rare  document.  Karl  Trever  helped  in  the 
examination  of  the  files  of  the  Journals  of  Congress  and  in  the  com- 
pilation of  records  about  the  birthplace  of  Ann  Hill  Carter.  Donald  G. 
Patterson,  in  charge  of  study  rooms,  prepared  a list  of  references  on 
Arthur  Lee,  Richard  Henry  Lee  and  William  Lee.  Willard  Webb  made 
the  pen  and  ink  sketches  of  the  coats  of  arms  in  this  volume.  George  W. 
Morgan  directed  the  making  of  the  photostats.  Transcriptions  of  the 
letters  of  Ann  Carter  Lee  in  the  Division  of  Manuscripts  and  of  those 
in  the  possession  of  the  Lee  Foundation  were  made  by  Maud  Kay  Sites. 
To  all  of  these  members  of  the  staff  of  the  Library  of  Congress,  includ- 
ing also  Claus  Bogel,  A.  W.  Kremer,  Frank  E.  Louraine  and  Samuel  M. 
Croft,  I am  indebted  for  most  courteous  cooperation.  To  Dr.  Leicester 
B.  Holland,  Chief  of  the  Division  of  Fine  Arts,  I am  indebted  for  sug- 
gestions in  the  selection  and  placement  of  many  of  the  illustrations. 

I also  wish  to  thank  Dean  Meeks  and  Professor  Charles  Nagel,  Jr.,  of 
Yale  University  for  their  constructive  aid  and  never  flagging  interest  in 
that  part  of  the  Stratford  research  made  under  their  direction  and  with 
their  constant  cooperation  since  the  completion  of  the  first  "Stratford 
Survey.”  From  the  Yale  University  Library  has  also  come  practical  and 


XI 


generous  cooperation  with  the  Stratford  research  through  Andrew 
Keogh,  Librarian,  and  Charles  E.  Rush,  Assistant  Librarian,  who  pro- 
vided the  Lee  Foundation  with  several  hundred  photostats  of  original 
Lee  letters  and  documents  lent  by  descendants  of  the  Stratford  Lees. 

Thanks  are  due  Walter  B.  Briggs,  Acting  Librarian  of  Harvard  Col- 
lege Library,  for  making  its  collection  of  Lee  Letter  Books  readily  ac- 
cessible; and  to  Mrs.  Anna  F.  Dakin,  assistant  in  the  Archives  Collection, 
for  special  aid  in  locating  records  of  Charles  Carter  Lee  and  other  mem- 
bers of  the  class  of  1819. 

For  certain  interesting  information  I am  indebted  to  Francis  P.  Gaines, 
President  of  Washington  and  Lee  University;  Dr.  E.  G.  Swem,  Libra- 
rian of  the  College  of  William  and  Mary;  Emily  L.  Wilson,  Librarian, 
Florida  State  Historical  Society;  Dr.  W.  G.  Stanard,  Virginia  Histori- 
cal Society;  Mrs.  Victor  Stewart  of  Chippokes  Plantation;  Robert  Nel- 
son, Director  of  the  Virginia  State  Chamber  of  Commerce;  Emma  Chip- 
ley  of  Moorefield,  West  Virginia;  Captain  Dudley  W.  Knox,  officer-in- 
charge  of  the  Office  of  Naval  Records  and  Library,  Navy  Department; 
Mrs.  Frederick  Walls  of  Georgetown,  Delaware;  Professor  R.  E.  E. 
Harkness,  President  of  the  American  Baptist  Historical  Society;  Harold 
Shurtleff,  Director  of  the  Department  of  Research  and  Record  of  the 
Williamsburg  Holding  Corporation;  John  H.  K.  Burgwin,  George  Stuart, 
Tench  Tilghman  Marye,  Charles  E.  Stuart,  Richard  W.  Millar,  T.  Mor- 
rison Carnegie  of  Dungeness,  Cumberland  Island,  and  the  Honorable 
R.  Walton  Moore,  Assistant  Secretary  of  State. 

Historical  records  relating  to  the  Somerville  family  and  to  the  career 
of  William  Clarke  Somerville,  fifth  master  of  Stratford,  have  been  fur- 
nished by  James  W.  Somerville,  J.  A.  Somerville  and  Elizabeth  Hebb. 

Grateful  acknowledgment  is  especially  due  to  Dr.  Douglas  Southall 
Freeman,  Henry  W.  Lanier,  Dr.  Charles  O.  Paullin,  Gist  Blair,  Dr. 
Elizabeth  Kite,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Stanley  Resor,  and  Miss  Janet  Richards, 
all  of  whom  have  read  various  portions  of  the  manuscript  and,  as  friend- 
ly critics,  have  given  me  sympathetic  and  most  constructive  aid. 

It  is  impossible  to  express  how  much  this  book  owes  to  Roma  Kauff- 
man. In  addition  to  special  research,  she  has  given  a critical  reading  of 
every  portion  of  the  manuscript,  and  I am  grateful  for  her  discrimi- 
nating criticism.  I also  thank  Lucy  Brown  Beale,  who  has  so  ably  assisted 
in  the  research  in  Virginia  courthouses  and  in  many  other  ways  has  had 
an  effective  part  in  this  work.  Marian  H.  Addington  provided  inter- 
esting details  of  Stratford  in  Essex,  helped  with  the  Lee  genealogical 
charts  and  in  the  interpretation  and  transcription  of  many  original  Lee 
letters  and  photostats.  For  much  of  the  work  of  transcribing,  as  well 

xii 


as  of  checking  and  rechecking  with  the  quotes  and  records,  I am  in- 
debted to  my  secretary,  Rosa  M.  Wade. 

Among  the  members  of  the  Lee  family  who  have  generously  per- 
mitted the  use  of  exclusive  historical  or  pictorial  material  in  their  pos- 
session are  Mrs.  Mildred  Lee  Francis,  Mrs.  Hugh  Antrim,  Mrs.  Gran- 
ville G.  Valentine,  Mrs.  Ellin  Lee  Rhea,  Dr.  George  Bolling  Lee,  J.  Col- 
lins Lee,  Thomas  Alexander  Lee,  Robert  Randolph  Lee,  Dr.  Henry 
Lee,  Mrs.  Catharine  Lee  Hopkins,  Charles  Carter  Lee,  Jr.,  and  Dr.  Lloyd 
P.  Shippen.  Mrs.  Francis,  granddaughter  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee,  read 
many  chapters  of  the  manuscript,  and  I have  received  from  her  much 
information  of  historical  value. 

Photographs  of  Stratford  have  been  taken  by  Frances  Benjamin  John- 
ston, Dr.  Orrin  S.  Wightman,  Theodore  Irving  Coe,  the  Virginia  State 
Chamber  of  Commerce,  and  the  Lucy  Lamar  Galleries.  Photographs  of 
rare  portraits  have  been  furnished  by  the  Frick  Art  Reference  Library, 
the  Corcoran  Gallery  of  Art,  and  the  Virginia  Historical  Society. 

The  volume  is  divided  into  four  parts  or  books,  three  of  which  trace 
the  history  of  the  Lees  and  of  the  Clifts  Plantation — later  Stratford — 
from  the  time  that  Jamestown  and  Williamsburg  were  the  colonial 
capitals  of  Virginia  through  the  first  quarter  of  the  nineteenth  century, 
when  the  estate  passed  out  of  the  ownership  of  the  Lee  family  into  that 
of  the  Somerville,  Storke,  McCarty  and  Stuart  families,  and  finally  the 
Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation.  Book  Four  treats  briefly  of  the 
Great  House  under  the  ownership  of  the  Foundation.  Record  of  its 
"rediscovery”  in  1928  and  the  preliminary  research  is  followed  by  that 
of  the  formation  of  the  Lee  Foundation  to  purchase  and  restore  the 
property  and  to  dedicate  and  maintain  it  as  a national  shrine.  An  author- 
itative presentation  of  the  archaeological  explorations  and  the  partial 
restoration  of  the  mansion,  certain  of  the  outbuildings,  portions  of  the 
grounds,  and  the  Stratford  gardens  has  been  made  possible  through 
the  cooperation  of  Arthur  A.  Shurcliff,  Fiske  Kimball,  Herbert  A.  Clai- 
borne and  Morley  J.  Williams,  all  of  whom  have  generously  lent  their 
reports  and  specifications  and  afforded  me  through  the  Lee  Foundation 
the  use  of  their  maps,  photographs,  drawings  and  plans.  My  thanks 
are  extended  to  them  also  for  giving  a critical  reading  of  the  chapters 
dealing  with  this  part  of  the  Stratford  work.  For  other  points  of  archi- 
tectural information  about  Stratford  I am  indebted  to  William  Law- 
rence Bottomley  and  Thomas  Tileston  Waterman,  Assistant  Director, 
Historic  American  Buildings  Survey,  U.  S.  Department  of  the  Interior. 

In  reading  and  correcting  the  proof  of  the  entire  book  I have  had  the 
expert  assistance  of  Lalla  Herrscher  Cornish  and  I wish  particularly  to 

xiii 


express  my  appreciation  for  this  invaluable  aid  and  also  for  the  many 
constructive  suggestions  Mrs.  Cornish  has  so  generously  given. 

Notwithstanding  meticulous  care,  certain  errors  have  crept  into  my 
manuscript,  as  in  the  epitaph  on  the  tomb  of  the  second  Richard  Lee 
at  Burnt  House  Fields.  When  I revisited  this  old  burying  ground  of 
the  Lees  for  the  purpose  of  deciphering  the  inscriptions  on  the  tombs, 
rain  put  a speedy  end  to  the  task.  Accordingly  I availed  myself  of  the 
version  used  in  Lee  of  Virginia,  evidently  copied  from  that  of  Bishop 
Meade.  When  this  book  had  gone  to  press,  a member  of  the  Lee  family 
presented  me  with  the  recently  corrected  transcript  of  the  inscriptions 
on  the  tombs  and  this  version  has  been  placed  in  the  Supplementary 
Records.  Other  additional  subject  matter  appears  in  the  appendix  and 
is  listed  in  the  table  of  contents.  Much  variation  in  spelling  occurs  in 
old  letters  and  documents  and  even  in  court  records,  particularly  of 
proper  names  and  places.  In  the  transcripts  made  for  this  volume  great 
care  has  been  taken  to  reproduce  the  original  context.  Wherever  it  has 
not  been  possible  for  me  to  collate  a given  copy  with  the  original  this 
fact  is  stated  in  a footnote.  Where  mistakes  are  discovered  they  will  be 
corrected  in  future  editions  and  I shall  appreciate  the  kindness  of  readers 
who  will  call  my  attention  to  errors. 

The  printed  source  materials,  as  well  as  the  manuscripts,  are  listed  in 
the  bibliography  wherever  they  are  not  indicated  in  the  content  itself  or 
by  footnote.  Among  the  books  written  by  the  Lees  themselves,  much 
has  been  drawn  from  the  writings  of  Major  Henry  Lee,  the  last  Lee 
master  of  Stratford,  and  from  his  father’s  Memoirs.  Some  data  has 
been  obtained  from  the  first  biographies  of  Richard  Henry  and  Arthur 
Lee  written  by  their  kinsman  of  two  generations  later,  Richard  Henry 
Lee,  Jr.,  of  Shuter’s  Hill,  Alexandria,  and  Belmont  in  Loudoun  County. 
E.  J.  Lee’s  Lee  of  Virginia  is  a never-failing  source  of  information  about 
the  Lees  and  related  families.  So  is  Bishop  Meade’s  Old  Churches,  Min- 
isters and  Families  of  Virginia.  Photostats  of  Reverend  George  Wash- 
ington Beale’s  series  of  newspaper  articles  on  Stratford  and  other  early 
plantations  of  the  Northern  Neck  of  Virginia,  furnished  by  R.  C.  Ballard 
Thruston,  have  provided  interesting  and  rare  source  material.  Facts  of 
intrinsic  value  to  Virginia  history  and  specifically  to  the  Northern  Neck, 
are  revealed  in  early  nineteenth  century  books  about  the  early  Baptist 
Society  in  colonial  Virginia. 

Among  the  original  letters  in  the  manuscript  collections  heretofore 
unpublished,  certain  of  the  letters  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  to  his  family 
throw  new  light  on  his  history  and  character.  Several  letters  of  Ann 
Carter  Lee  which  also  receive  their  first  publication  here,  add  much  to 


XIV 


the  meagre  records  of  the  mother  of  Robert  £.  Lee.  Of  incomparable 
interest  and  pathos  is  the  correspondence  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee’s 
son,  Major  Henry  Lee,  and  his  wife,  Anne  McCarty  Lee.  All  these  letters 
and  many  others  lost  for  a century  were  found  locked  in  a trunk  stored 
in  the  smokehouse  of  an  old  Virginia  home. 

Lrom  other  unpublished  letters  and  the  few  published  verses  of  Charles 
Carter  Lee,  as  well  as  from  verbal  statements  made  bv  him  to  his 
daughter  Mildred,  have  come  items  of  information  and  descriptions  of 
great  value  to  the  historian  and  to  the  Lee  Loundation.  Carter  Lee  was 
not  only  the  diarist  of  early  Stratford  days;  he  was  also  the  one  archivist 
of  his  immediate  family. 

The  Shippen  papers  in  the  home  of  Dr.  and  Mrs.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen, 
as  well  as  those  deposited  in  the  Library  of  Congress,  contain  original 
letters  of  Alice  Lee  Shippen,  Hannah  Lee  Corbin,  Lucy  Grymes  Lee 
Carter,  Arthur  Lee,  Bernard  Carter,  Dr.  William  Shippen  and  Tom 
Shippen — invaluable  to  the  Stratford  historian. 

No  one  can  read  far  into  the  Lee  records  without  finding  the  history 
of  the  family  of  peculiar  psychological  interest  as  well  as  extraordinary 
historical  import.  This  might  also  be  said  of  other  families  whose  records 
reach  back  equally  as  far.  It  is  a question,  however,  if  there  is  any  family 
so  merged  into  practically  every  phase  of  this  nation’s  making  as  the 
Lees  of  Virginia  whose  history  contains  such  elements  of  drama.  For 
this  reason  no  book  about  Stratford  Hall  can  be  merely  a brick  and 
mortar  record  but  must  be  one  in  which  the  human  being  is,  as  it  were, 
the  headstone  of  the  building. 

Ethel  Armes. 

Richmond,  Virginia, 

November  eleventh,  1936. 


XV 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 

Preface ix 

Foreword  by  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt xxv 

BOOK  ONE 

THE  COLONIAL  BACKGROUND  OF  STRATFORD  HALL 

1633-1760 

I  The  Provenance  of  the  Stratford  Lees  ....  1 

II  The  Record  of  a Young  Colonial 25 

III  The  Building  of  the  Great  House 45 

IV  Commander  in  Chief  of  Virginia 65 

V The  Second  Master  of  Stratford 88 

VI  The  Plantation  and  the  Waterfront  . . . .114 

BOOK  TWO 

THE  REVOLUTION  AND  ITS  AFTERMATH 
1760-90 

VII  The  Band  of  Brothers:  Intrepid  and  Unchangeable  139 
VIII  Vincit  Amor  Patriae  Laudumque  Immensa  Cupido  164 

IX  Alice  Lee:  Mistress  of  Shippen  House  ....  192 

X Hannah  Lee:  Mistress  of  Peckatone  ....  199 

XI  The  Fifth  Generation  of  the  Lees 218 

XII  The  Third  Master  of  Stratford 240 

BOOK  THREE 

A CENTURY  OF  CHANGE 
1790-1890 

XIII  Chief  Magistrate  of  the  Commonwealth  . . . 263 

XIV  The  Return  to  Westmoreland 283 

XV  Through  Carter’s  Eyes 296 

XVI  Storm  Clouds  Gather  Over  Stratford  Hall  . .312 

XVII  To  Secure  the  Blessings  of  Liberty 330 

XVIII  The  End  at  Dungeness 345 

XIX  The  Last  Lef.  Master  of  Stratford 366 

XX  Consul  to  the  Barbary  Powers 385 

XXI  The  Fifth  Master  of  Stratford 411 

xvii 


PAGE 

XXII  Elizabeth  McCarty:  Mistress  of  Stratford  . . . 422 

The  Owners  of  Stratford  on  the  Potomac, 

1651-1929  439 

The  Lees  Who  Lived  at  Stratford  from  1729-30 

to  1822  440 

BOOK  FOUR 

THE  RESTORATION  OF  STRATFORD 
1928-1933 

XXIII  The  Scene  in  1928  443 

XXIV  The  Historical  Background 455 

XXV  The  Great  House  and  Its  Dependencies  ....  477 

XXVI  Gardens,  Grounds  and  Orchard 495 

XXVII  Stratford  Hall:  A National  Shrine  . . . .513 

Supplementary  Records: 

1 Genealogical  Charts 

Prefatory  Note 521 

English  Ancestry  of  the  Virginia  Lees  . . .523 

Richard  Lee  of  England  and  America  . . .524 

Richard  Lee  of  Cople  (or  Matholic)  . . . 525 

Thomas  Lee  of  Stratford  Hall 526 

Henry  Lee  of  Lee  Hall 527 

2 Records  of  the  Mount  Pleasant  Line  of  Lees  . .528 

3 Notes  About  Stratford-Langthorne  . . . .532 

4 Record  of  the  Ludwell  Family 532 

5 Chippokes  Plantation 534 

6 The  Deed  of  1732  to  Chantilly 534 

7 Will  of  Thomas  Lee 534 

8 The  Lee  Family  Burying  Grounds  in  Westmore- 

land   538 

9 The  Baptist  Society  in  Colonial  Virginia  . . . 541 

10  The  Birthplace  of  Ann  Hill  Carter 543 

11  Records  of  Lucy  Grymes  Lee  and  Bernard  M.  Carter  546 

12  The  Great  Drought  in  Westmoreland  ....  547 

Bibliography 549 

Index 559 


xviii 


ILLUSTRATIONS 


Stratford  Hall  Frontispiece  page 


From  a photograph  of  an  old  painting  by  Minnie  Ward  of  Bladensfield.  (Courtesy  of 
Josephine  Wheelwright  Rust) 

The  Foundations  of  Philip  Lud well’s  Three  Houses  at  Jamestown , 
Virginia 2 

(Courtesy  of  The  Association  for  the  Preservation  of  Virginia  Antiquities) 

A mapp  of  Virginia  difcoured  to  ye  Hills:  Drawn  in  1651  by  Vir- 
ginia Ferrar 3 

(Courtesy  of  the  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Maps) 

The  Honorable  Colonel  Richard  Lee  of  Stratford-Langthorne,  Essex, 
England,  and  of  Virginia:  progenitor  of  the  Stratford  Lees  . . 5 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  (Courtesy  of  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial 
Foundation) 

Coat  of  Arms  — Lee  of  Coton  Hall 6 

Wood  carving  of  Lee  Arms  on  the  door  of  old  Cobbs  Hall,  home 
of  the  first  Richard  Lee 10 

Sir  William  Berkeley,  Royal  Governor  of  the  Colony  of  Virginia  . 13 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist,  now  in  the  possession  of  Maurice  duPont 
Lee.  (Courtesy  of  I.  Newton  Lewis) 

Mrs.  Philip  Ludwell,  Lady  Berkeley  (Frances  Culpeper)  widow  of 
Sir  William  Berkeley 14 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist,  now  in  the  possession  of  Maurice  duPont 
Lee.  (Courtesy  of  I.  Newton  Lewis) 


Conjectural  restoration  of  ancient  buildings  at  Jamestown,  Virginia, 
on  the  foundations  reputed  by  Samuel  H.  Yonge  to  be  the  site  of 
the  Fourth  State  House,  Philip  Ludwell’ s Three  Houses,  and  the 


Country  House 17 

(Courtesy  of  Thomas  Tileston  Waterman) 

The  second  Philip  Ludwell,  grandfather  of  the  Stratford  Lees  . . 21 


From  the  original  portrait  by  Sir  Godfrey  Kneller.  (Courtesy  of  owner,  Gerard  B.  Lambert, 
and  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

These  wooded  palisades  of  Stratford  on  Potomac  have  a rugged 
grandeur  and  mystic  loveliness.  In  the  days  of  the  early  Lees  eagles 
nested  there 27 

Photograph  by  Frances  Benjamin  Johnston 

Foundation  plan  of  the  Castle  at  Green  Spring,  the  first  Great  House 
in  Virginia,  built  by  Governor  Berkeley  about  1648.  Property  of 
Ludwell  and  Lee  families  for  521  years.  Discovered  and  identified 


in  1926  by  Jesse  Dimmick 30 

The  Secretary’s  house,  Williamsburg 31 


Photograph  by  Frances  Benjamin  Johnston.  (Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of 
Fine  Arts) 


xtx 


The  Secretary’s  house,  Williamsburg 34 

Photograph  by  Delos  H.  Smith.  (Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Fine  Arts) 

Northwest  dependency  of  the  Great  House,  probably rr The  Counting 
House”  of  Thomas  Lee’s  inventory  (1758) 36 

Photograph  by  Virginia  State  Chamber  of  Commerce.  (Courtesy  of  Robert  Nelson, 
Director) 

Hannah  Harrison  (Mrs.  Philip  Ludwell ),  grandmother  of  the  Strat- 
ford Lees 38 

From  the  original  painting  by  Sir  Godfrey  Kneller.  (Courtesy  of  owner,  Gerard  B.  Lam- 
bert, and  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

Stratford  Hall  stands  on  a broad  plateau  protected  on  the  river  side 
by  natural  fortifications 44 

Sketch  by  Morley  J.  Williams.  (Courtesy  of  The  Garden  Club  of  Virginia) 

Landscape  design  of  Ashdown  House,  Berkshire,  England  ...  46 

(Courtesy  of  Country  Life,  London,  England) 

Southwest  dependency:  probably  the  Law  Office  of  Stratford  . . 48 


Comparative  plans,  showing  similarity  of  dimensions  and  founda- 


tion plan  between  Stratf  ord  Hall  and  the  Capitol  at  Williamsburg  50 

(Courtesy  of  Thomas  Tileston  Waterman) 

Landscape  design  for  Stratford  by  Morley  J .Williams  . . . .51 

(Courtesy  of  the  Garden  Club  of  Virginia) 

A section  of  the  panelling  in  the  Great  Hall:  Original  hardware, 
brass  locks,  and  H-hinges  imported  from  England  . . . .53 

An  original  lock  showing  British  trade-mark 56 

View  from  one  of  the  dining-room  windows  looking  toward  the  river  59 


To  the  robust  English  character  of  the  early  Stratford  gardens  there 
was  added  by  Thomas  Lee  a certain  Eastern  quality,  a tropic  rich- 
ness   60 

Photograph  by  Frances  Benjamin  Johnston 

The  first  mistress  of  Stratford  Hall:  Hannah  Ludwell  Lee,  wife  of 
Thomas  Lee  and  mother  of  the  famous  Lees 63 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  (Courtesy  of  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial 
Foundation) 

Facsimile  of  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster,  1744  66-6 7 

(Courtesy  of  Virginia  State  Library) 

Honorable  Thomas  Lee,  ” President  of  the  Council  and  Commander 
in  Chief  of  Virginia” 69 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  (Courtesy  of  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial 
Foundation) 

Facsimile  of  the  instructions  from  Governor  Gooch  providing  for 
the  appointment  of  the  Virginia  commission  to  negotiate  the 
Treaty  of  Lancaster 72-73 

(Courtesy  of  Virginia  State  Library) 


XX 


Facsimile  of  first  page  of  original  letter,  dated  W hit e hall  [ London} 
September  1,  17 SO,  to  President  Lee  from  the  Board  of  Trade  and 
Plantations 78 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Manuscripts) 

The  inscription  on  the  monument  to  Thomas  Lee  at  Pope’s  Creek 
Church,  written  by  Richard  Henry  Lee.  Preserved  in  a memo- 
randum book  by  Thomas  Lee  Shippen 84-85 

(Courtesy  of  Dr.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen) 

The  grave  of  Thomas  and  Hannah  Ludwell  Lee  in  Burnt  House 

Fields  . . * 86 

Northeast  dependency  of  the  Great  House,  probably  the  Stratford 

School 90 

Captain  Henry  Lee  of  Lee  Hall  and  Leesylvania,  father  of  Light- 
Horse  Harry  Lee  and  guardian  of  the  Stratford  children  ...  93 

From  an  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  (Courtesy  of  J.  Collins  Lee  and  Virginia 
Historical  Society) 

Vista  from  the  Great  Hall  through  the  east  wing,  showing  the  gardens  103 
The  old  stable  at  Stratford  before  reconstruction 116 

Photograph  by  Lucy  Lamar  Galleries 

Pedigree  of  Dotterel 119 

(Courtesy  of  American  Remount  Association) 

Original  specipcations  for  coach  ordered  in  London  by  Alderman 
William  Lee  for  his  sister,  Hannah  Lee  Corbin 121 

(Courtesy  of  R.  Stafford  Murphy) 

A typical  Virginia  landing  of  the  eighteenth  century,  showing  corner 
of  tobacco  warehouse  and  other  waterfront  structures  . . . .128 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Maps) 

The  site  of  Stratford  Landing 132 

A relic  of  the  skirmish  at  Stratford  Landing  during  the  Revolution  . 142 
Richard  Henry  Lee’s  Independence  Resolutions  introduced  in  Con- 
tinental Congress,  fune  7 , 1776  146 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Manuscripts) 

The  Declaration  of  Independence,  showing  the  signatures  of  Richard 
Henry  Lee  and  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee 151 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress) 

Map  of  Virginia  at  the  time  of  the  American  Revolution  . 152-153 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Maps) 

Richard  Henry  Lee 155 

From  the  original  portrait  by  Charles  Willson  Peale,  now  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  Lanier 
McKee.  (Courtesy  of  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

Letter  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  and  William  Grayson  to  the  Governor 
of  Virginia 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Manuscripts) 


159 


Original  verse  written  by  Nancy  Ship  pen  (Mrs.  Henry  Beekman 


Livingston ) to  her  uncle,  Francis  Light  foot  Lee 161 

(Courtesy  of  Dr.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen) 

The  Penn-Lee  letter  to  the  Continental  Congress 167 

(Courtesy  of  New  York  Times) 

Signature  sheet  of  the  Olive  Branch  Petition  ....  168-169 

From  facsimile  copy  in  Division  of  Manuscripts,  Library  of  Congress 

Original  letter  to  the  public  written  by  Arthur  Lee  in  Paris  . 174- 175 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Division  of  Manuscripts) 

Arthur  Lee 179 


From  the  original  portrait  by  Charles  Willson  Peale,  now  in  possession  of  the  Virginia 
Historical  Society,  to  which  it  was  presented  by  Charles  Carter  Lee.  (Courtesy  of  Virginia 
Historical  Society  and  Cook  Photographers,  Richmond) 

Signature  sheet  of  the  Treaty  of  Alliance  between  the  United  States 


and  France,  signed  February  6,  1778  184-185 

(Courtesy  of  Department  of  State,  Division  of  Archives) 

The  site  of  Chantilly  on  the  Potomac,  home  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  . 188 
Excerpt  from  original  letter  of  Hannah  Lee  Corbin  to  her  sister 
Alice 200-201 

(Courtesy  of  Dr.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen) 

View  of  the  Stratford  gardens  through  English  beeches  . . . 203 

Vista  from  the  Great  Hall  through  the  west  wing,  looking  toward 

the  old  Cliff  Road  to  the  river 207 

The  playground  of  Matilda  and  Flora 221 

The  old  beeches  at  Stratford 224 

Photograph  by  Frances  Benjamin  Johnston 

Gold  medal  presented  to  Henry  Lee  by  Act  of  Congress  . . . 233 

From  E.  J.  Lee’s  Lee  of  Virginia,  p.  332 

Colonel  Harry  Lee  of  the  Legion 237 

(Courtesy  of  Pennsylvania  Historical  Society) 

Across  the  broad  expanse  of  fragrant  gardens  was  the  family  burial 
ground  of  the  Stratford  Lees 245 

Closing  paragraph  of  Henry  Lee’s  oration  on  the  death  of  General 
Washington 248 

(Courtesy  of  Library  of  Congress,  Rare  Book  Collection) 

Nancy  Lee  (Mrs.  Charles  Lee),  daughter  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  . . 254 

From  the  original  portrait  by  Sully,  now  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  Joseph  Packard. 
(Courtesy  of  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

Henry  Lee,  Governor  of  Virginia 265 

From  the  original  portrait  by  Saint  Memin.  (Courtesy  of  Lewis  P.  Woltz,  Photographer,  and 
Corcoran  Gallery  of  Art) 

The  third  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  heir  of  Stratford 267 

From  the  original  miniature.  Now  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  Hugh  Antrim  of  Richmond, 
Virginia.  (Courtesy  of  the  owner) 

xxii 


Carter  Coat  of  Arms 282 

The  fruits  and  shades  of  Stratford 284 

East  passage  leading  from  the  Great  Hall  to  the  Mother’s  Room  . 298 

Guardian  angels  of  the  Nursery  of  Stratford 310 

West  passage  leading  to  the  parlor  and  the  Cherry  Tree  Room  . .31 6 

Portrait  of  William  Pitt  which  hung  at  Stratford 319 

From  engraving  owned  by  John  Leeds  Bozman.  Original  allegorical  portrait  by  Charles 
Willson  Peale  at  Westmoreland  County  Courthouse,  Montross,  Va.  (Courtesy  of  Mrs. 

John  Henry  King  Burgwin  [Ruth  Leeds  Kerr]) 

Mildred  Lee  Childe,  youngest  child  of  Light-Horse  Harry  and 
Ann  Lee 333 

From  a plate  of  the  original  drawing.  (Courtesy  of  Mrs.  Mildred  Lee  Francis) 

Pitzhugh  Coat  of  Arms 344 

Major  General  Henry  Lee  (Light-Horse  Harry ) 351 

From  the  original  portrait  by  Gilbert  Stuart,  now  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  Mildred  Lee 
Francis,  Annapolis,  Maryland.  (Courtesy  of  the  owner) 

The  grave  at  Dun gene ss 361 

The  entrance  road  to  Stratford 368 

The  Great  House  deserted 378 

Photograph  by  Lucy  Lamar  Galleries 

William  Henry  Pitzhugh  of  Ravensworth 389 

Portrait  by  Sully.  (Courtesy  of  Dr.  George  Bolling  Lee  and  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

Mrs.  William  Henry  Pitzhugh  of  Ravensivorth 391 

Portrait  by  Sully.  (Courtesy  of  Dr.  George  Bolling  Lee  and  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

Anne  McCarty  Lee,  wife  of  Major  Henry  Lee 401 

Portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  (Courtesy  of  Honorable  and  Mrs.  Charles  E.  Stuart) 

Lucy  Grymes  Lee,  Mrs.  Bernard  M.  Carter,  daughter  of  Light-Horse 
Harry  Lee  and  his  first  wife,  Matilda  Lee 407 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  Now  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  Morgan 
La  Montague.  (Courtesy  of  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

McCarty  Coat  of  Arms 410 

William  Clarke  Somerville 413 

From  the  original  portrait  by  Saint  Memin.  (Courtesy  of  James  A.  Somerville  and 
Corcoran  Gallery  of  Art) 

The  gardens  were  revived 4l6 

Washington  Coat  of  Arms 421 

The  path  leading  to  the  herb  garden 428 

The  Last  Wing  of  the  Mansion 430 

The  West  Wing  of  the  Mansion 432  ' 

The  grave  of  Elizabeth  McCarty  Storke 436 

xxiii 


Bleak  and  gaunt  the  Great  House  stood 444 

Growing  in  the  broken  chimney  caps  were  weeds  and  bushes  . . 446 

Photograph  by  Theodore  Irving  Coe 

The  chimney  towers  of  Stratford  Hall 452 

Photograph  by  Theodore  Irving  Coe 

The  old  spring 456 

Alcove  in  the  dining  room 463 

Eighteenth  century  bird  house  under  the  eaves  of  the  southwest  out- 
building   464 

Ruins  of  the  vault  in  the  family  burial  ground 468 

Eire  insurance  policies  on  Stratford  taken  out  by  Light-Horse  Harry 
Lee 472-473 

(Courtesy  Mutual  Assurance  Society  of  Richmond  and  Robert  A.  Lancaster,  Jr.) 

Interior  of  kitchen  before  restoration 474 

The  old  kitchen  restored 480 

The  old  kitchen  and  the  south  ha-ha  wall.  First  building  at  Stratford 
to  be  restored 482 

Interior  of  kitchen  after  restoration 484 

Original  inside  staircase  leading  from  ground  floor  to  East  Passage 
on  main  floor 487 

Floor  plans  of  Stratford  Hall 490-491-492-493 

Drawn  by  Fiske  Kimball.  (Courtesy  of  Mr.  Kimball) 

The  octagon  summer  house  restored  on  its  original  foundations  . . 494 

"On  the  Potomac  doth  a mansion  stand.” 498-499 

Description  of  Stratford  from  "Virginia  Georgies,"  by  Charles  Carter  Lee.  (Courtesy  of 
Robert  Randolph  Lee) 

The  east  ha-ha  wall  and  the  repaired  smokehouse 502 

The  restoration  plan  of  Stratford  gardens  by  Morley  J.  Williams  . 508 

(Courtesy  of  the  Garden  Club  of  Virginia) 

Mrs.  George  Washington  Parke  Custis  (Mary  Lee  Eitzlough),  first 
mistress  of  Arlington  House,  mother  of  Mrs.  Robert  E.  Lee  . .515 

From  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist.  Now  in  the  possession  of  Dr.  Bolling 
Lee.  (Courtesy  of  Frick  Art  Reference  Library) 

Alary  Custis  Lee,  wife  of  Robert  E.  Lee 518 

(Courtesy  of  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation) 

Robert  E.  Lee  in  dress  uniform  of  a Lieutenant  of  Engineers  (about 
1831 ) 520 

Portrait  credited  to  Beniamin  West,  Jr.  (Courtesy  of  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation) 


xxiv 


THE  WHITE  HOUSE 
WASHINGTON 


I ALWAYS  think  of  myself  as  a rediscoverer  of  Stratford.  Probably 
there  were  many  others  who,  like  myself,  stumbled  upon  the  Strat- 
ford of  twenty  years  ago.  I knew  of  its  existence,  of  course,  but  not 
its  precise  location.  When,  therefore,  a party  of  us  who  were  serving  in 
the  Wilson  administration  landed  from  the  small  presidential  yacht 
Sylph  at  an  apparently  uninhabited  section  of  the  lower  Potomac  and 
Stratford  appeared  before  us  as  we  strolled  inland,  we  felt  the  thrill  of 
a Balboa  upon  a peak  of  Darien.  The  amazing  dignity  of  the  great  house, 
of  the  outbuildings  and  barns,  transcended  the  want  of  repair  and  the 
lack  of  accessibility.  Many  times  after  that  I returned  to  visit  Doctor 
Stuart  and  to  wander  with  him  through  the  rooms  and  then  up  to  the 
roof  to  see  if  aught  remained  of  the  original  glimpse  of  the  Potomac. 

It  is  right  and  fitting  that  Stratford  is  being  made  once  more  a shrine 
to  which  the  lovers  of  the  history  of  our  land  can  come  from  every  part 
of  the  nation.  It  is  a shrine  dedicated  to  a great  American  family  and 
especially  to  the  memory  of  that  very  great  gentleman,  Robert  E.  Lee. 
It  is  equally  a permanent  memorial  to  a brave,  young  civilization  for 
which  modern  America  will  always  be  grateful. 


■ 


BOOK  ONE 

THE  COLONIAL  BACKGROUND  OF  STRATFORD  HALL 

(1635  - 1760) 


CHAPTER  I:  THE  PROVENANCE  OF  THE  STRATFORD  LEES 


1 

CLOSE  to  the  sea-wall  along  the  southwestern  edge  of  Jamestown 
Island,  near  Pitch  and  Tarr  Swamp  of  old  record,  lie  the  foun- 
dations of  Philip  Ludwell’s  three  houses.  Next  to  them  is  all  that 
remains  of  the  fourth  State  House,  also  built  by  Ludwell  on  the  site  of 
the  building  destroyed  by  Nathaniel  Bacon  and  his  followers  in  the 
revolution  of  1676.  Familiar  figures  in  the  capitol  at  Jamestown,  were 
Colonel  Ludwell  himself,  Colonel  Richard  Lee  of  Gloucester  County, 
Henry  Corbin  of  Middlesex,  Benjamin  Harrison  of  Surry,  Theodorick 
Bland  of  Charles  City,  and  Edmund  Jenings  of  York.  These  six  "top- 
ping” men,  Britain’s  '"trusty  and  well  beloved,”  were  ""Old  Standers”  in 
that  country,  to  use  the  phrase  of  their  friend  and  fellow  councillor, 
Robert  Beverley.  With  the  exception  of  Philip  Ludwell  and  Benjamin 
Harrison,  each  of  them  was  the  first  of  his  family  to  come  from  England 
to  the  Colony. 

The  marriages  that  took  place  among  the  members  of  these  families, 
late  in  the  seventeenth  century  or  early  in  the  eighteenth,  draw  a pattern 
of  relationships  which  has  an  important  bearing  on  this  record  and  on 
the  history  of  Virginia  and  the  United  States.  For  these  six  men  were 
the  forebears  of  the  Stratford  Lees. 

Philip  Ludwell’s  son,  Philip,  married  Hannah,  daughter  of  Benjamin 
Harrison;  Lee’s  son,  Richard,  married  Laetitia,  the  daughter  of  Henry 
Corbin.  Their  son,  Henry  Lee,  married  Mary,  granddaughter  of  Theo- 
dorick Bland.  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee1  of  the  Revolution,  father  of  Rob- 
ert E.  Lee,  was  their  descendant.  Through  his  mother  came  the  Jenings 
strain. 

The  fifth  son  of  Richard  and  Laetitia  Lee  was  Thomas,  who  became 
President  and  Commander  in  Chief  of  Virginia,  one  of  the  important 
colonials  of  his  generation,  "'to  Country  and  to  Court  alike  a Friend.” 
the  man  through  whose  enterprise  the  vast  region  of  the  Ohio  basin 
was  opened  to  English  settlement.  Thomas  Lee  married  Hannah  Lud- 
well, the  daughter  of  the  second  Philip  Ludwell.  They  were  the 
builders  of  Stratford  Hall,  the  Great  House  in  Westmoreland  County, 
which  had  a significant  part  in  a hundred  years  of  America’s  history. 

Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee  were  the  parents  of  eleven  children,  of 
whom  eight  survived  to  take  a constructive  part  in  the  upbuilding  of 
Virginia  and  the  making  of  this  nation. 

1Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  was  not  born  at  Stratford.  He  became  master  there  at  the  close  of 
the  Revolution  and  in  this  relation  is  accounted  a Stratford  l.ee. 

[1] 


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The  foundations  of  Philip  Ludwell's  three  houses  at  Jamestown,  Virginia. 


Their  eldest  son,  Philip,  succeeded  his  father  as  a member  of  the 
King’s  Council  and  as  owner  of  Stratford.  Under  his  hand,  the  planta- 
tion saw  further  industrial  and  agricultural  expansion  and  "social  ele- 
gance.’’ It  became  a center  for  tobacco  shipments  for  the  Northern 
Neck  and  was  one  of  the  early  stud  farms  of  the  Tidewater  section. 

The  elder  daughter,  Hannah,  was  a woman  of  remarkable  vigor  of 
intellect  and  strength  of  purpose.  Indifferent  to  censure,  she  stood  boldly 
for  personal  and  political  freedom,  and  according  to  tradition,  gave 
ardent  support  to  her  younger  brothers  in  their  struggle  for  colonial 
rights. 

The  youngest  daughter,  Alice,  married  William  Shippen  of  Philadel- 
phia, the  director  general  of  the  hospitals  of  the  Continental  Army,  and 
made  a home  and  headquarters  in  that  city  for  her  brothers  and  their 
Virginia  colleagues  of  the  Continental  Congress. 

The  other  sons  of  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee  were  Thomas  Ludwell, 
Richard  Henry,  Francis  Lightfoot,  William,  and  Arthur.  They  were 
among  Virginia’s  great  champions  of  liberty  during  the  war  for  Ameri- 
can independence.  Through  them  the  Stratford  estate  became  a center 
of  patriot  activities  some  years  before  the  Revolution,  the  place  in 
which  originated  a number  of  national  and  state  documents  bearing  on 
the  destiny  of  this  nation,  and  where  many  of  the  letters  of  the  Secret 
Correspondence  Committee  of  the  Revolution  had  their  source.  President 
John  Adams  spoke  of  these  five  Lees  of  Stratford  as  "that  band  of 
brothers,  intrepid  and  unchangeable,  who,  like  the  Greeks  at  Ther- 

[2] 


A mapp  of  Virginia  difco tired  to  yK  Hills:  Drawn  by  Virginia  Ferrar  in  1631.  This  was 
the  year  when  the  first  grant  was  given  to  Nathaniel  Pope  for  the  Clifts,  later  named 
Stratford  Plantation. 

mopylae  stood  in  the  gap,  in  the  defense  of  their  country,  from  the  first 
glimmering  of  the  Revolution  in  the  horizon,  through  all  its  rising  light, 
to  its  perfect  day.” 

Through  their  Virginia  forebears  of  the  seventeenth  century,  meet- 
ing in  the  State  House  on  Jamestown  Island,  and  through  both  sides 
of  their  immediate  ancestry  were  handed  down  to  the  Stratford  clan 
high  ideals  of  self-respect,  of  human  rights  and  liberties.  Royalists 
though  these  six  Old  Standers  were,  they  were  loyal  to  the  Stuarts  and  to 
the  first  representatives  of  the  House  of  Hanover,  but  they  were  loyal 
with  the  dignity  of  free  men  who  must  have  a voice  in  the  governance  of 
their  affairs. 

The  second  Richard  Lee,  grandfather  of  the  Stratford  Lees,  was  also 
high  in  the  affairs  of  state.  He  served  in  the  last  session  of  the  State 
House  at  James  City,  representing  the  county  of  Westmoreland.  Like 
his  father,  he  had  seen  the  institutions  of  the  first  legislative  body  on 
the  American  continent  transmitted  in  spirit  from  one  State  House  to 
another;  "that  they  might  have  a hande  in  the  governinge  of  themselves 
. . . yt  was  graunted  that  a generall  Assemblie  shoulde  be  helde  yearly 

[3] 


4 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


once,  whereat  were  to  be  present  the  Gov*'  and  Counsell  wth  two  Bur- 
gesses from  each  Plantation,  freely  to  be  elected  by  the  Inhabitants 
thereof,  this  Assemblie  to  have  power  to  make  and  ordaine  whatsoever 
lawes  and  orders  should  by  them  be  thought  good  and  profitable  for 
our  subsistance.” 

When,  at  the  turn  of  the  century,  the  capital  was  removed  from 
Jamestown  to  Williamsburg  by  an  act  which  Richard  Lee  helped  to  pass, 
he  was  among  the  legislators  to  place  within  the  fabric  of  the  new 
capital  these  same  resolves.  When  Independence  Hall  was  built  in  Phila- 
delphia nearly  three  generations  later,  the  Lees  of  Virginia  carried  to  it 
the  spirit  of  these  resolves. 

So  it  was  not  strange  that  the  second  Richard  Lee’s  grandson,  Richard 
Henry  Lee,  should  move  the  Declaration  of  Independence  and  that  his 
great-grandson,  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee,  should  die  a martyr  to  civil 
liberties. 

2 

To  understand  the  genesis  of  this  passion  for  liberty,  something  of  the 
background  of  the  men  who  transmitted  it  to  the  Stratford  Lees  must 
be  known,  something  of  their  personal  records,  their  spirit  and  their 
stamina. 

Richard  Lee,  founder  of  the  Lee  family  in  Virginia,  was  near 
enough  to  the  stirring  times  of  great  Elizabeth  to  have  in  his  blood  the 
urge  to  sail  strange  seas,  to  explore  and  settle  new  lands.  His  uncle, 
Gilbert  Lee  of  Essex,  a leather  merchant  trading  with  Virginia,  had 
fought  against  the  Armada.  The  exact  date  of  Richard  Lee’s  emigration 
to  America  is  unknown.  The  time  of  his  arrival  has  always  been  placed 
at  1641,  since  this  year  marks  the  first  public  record  of  his  presence  in 
the  Colony  and  his  first  official  appointment,  that  of  clerk  of  the  court 
of  Jamestown.  But  a probable  residence  in  Virginia  for  several  years 
prior  to  this  date  is  shown  by  notation  in  Hotten’s  Register  of  the  names 
of  all  the  Passengers  to  America  who  Passed  from  the  Port  of  London 
in  the  year  1634-35 :2 

2d  May,  1635 

Theis  under-written  names  are  to  be  transported  to  ye  Barbadoes  imbarqued 
in  the  Alexander  Capt:  Burche,  and  Gilbert  Grimes,  Mr  P.  Certificate  from  the 
Minister  where  they  late  dwelt  The  Men  took  the  oaths  of  Allegeance  and 
supremacie  die  et  anno  prd. 

Richard  Lee  22  yeres 

Robert  Lee  33  yeres 

-John  Camden  Hotten,  The  Original  Lists,  etc.,  London,  1874,  p.  73-75.  From  MSS.  in 
Public  Record  Office,  London. 


The  Honorable  Colonel  Richard  Lee  of  Stratford-Langthorne,  Essex,  England,  and  of 
Virginia:  progenitor  of  the  Stratford  Lees : from  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown 
artist. 


THE  PROVENANCE  OF  THE  STRATFORD  LEES 


7 


There  is  every  likelihood  that  the  Richard  Lee  named  is  the  great- 
grandfather of  the  Stratford  Lees.  Barbados  was  the  first  port  of  call 
for  many  Virginia  colonists.  The  record  seems  also  to  confirm  a tradition 
in  the  Lee  family  that  their  ancestor  in  Virginia  came  to  the  colonies 
with  a brother  and  that  both  settled  in  York  County.  It  coincides  with 
what  is  known  of  the  emigrant  Richard  Lee.  This  is  indeed  very  little, 
for  records  of  his  birth  and  baptism  are  missing.  Possibly  they  were  de- 
stroyed in  the  great  London  fire.  The  only  statement  of  the  parentage  of 
Richard  Lee  is  in  an  old  family  Bible,  formerly  at  Cobbs  Hall,  Nor- 
thumberland County,  Virginia,  where  he  is  described  as  the  son  of  Rich- 
ard Lee  of  Nordley  Regis  in  Shropshire.  The  ages  of  the  Richard  and 
Robert  Lee  named  in  the  1635  licenses  "to  go  beyond  the  seas’’  would 
place  Richard’s  birth  in  161 3 and  Robert’s  in  1602.  Thus  they  might 
easily  be  the  sons  of  Richard  and  Elizabeth  Bendy  Lee. 

According  to  the  College  of  Heralds,  Richard  Lee,  father  of  Richard 
Lee  of  Virginia,  was  one  of  the  eight  sons  of  John  Lee  of  Coton,  Shrop- 
shire, and  Joyce  Romney,  his  wife.3  The  record  of  his  baptism  at  Alveley, 
Shropshire,  is  dated  October  6,  1563;  that  of  his  marriage  to  Elizabeth 
Bendy,  also  at  Alveley,  bears  the  date  October  21,  1599.  He  owned  a 
farm  in  Shropshire  called  Nordley  Regis,  part  of  the  original  manor  of 
Coton,  but  shortly  after  his  marriage,  says  the  Shropshire  genealogist, 
H.  Edward  Forrest,  Lee  bought  another  farm  at  Stratford-Langthorne  in 
Essex  and  went  there  to  live. 

Documents  preserved  in  the  courthouses  of  York  and  Gloucester 
counties  in  Virginia  mention  Richard  and  Robert  Lee  jointly  and  show 
grants  of  land  in  which  they  both  figure.  A patent  was  granted  to  Robert 
Lee  for  540  acres  in  Gloucester  County:  "Beginning  at  a red  oak  by  Mr. 
Thornton’s  path  and  to  a white  oak  by  Colonel  Lee’s  Horse  Path  and  to 
a branch  by  the  said  Robert  Lee’s  plantation;  200  acres  thereof  formerly 
granted  to  Colonel  Richard  Lee,  on  the  17th  of  May,  1655,  and  by  him 
assigned  to  the  said  Robert  Lee,  on  the  5th  of  February,  1657,  and  the 
remaining  340  acres  for  the  transportation  of  seven  persons,  &C.” 

The  family  tradition  referred  to  in  Lee  of  Virginia  is  that  Richard 
Lee’s  brother  was  dissatisfied  and  returned  to  England.  For  whatever 
reason  he  makes  no  further  appearance  in  surviving  records. 

If  the  Richard  Lee  of  the  1635  license  be  identified  as  the  Virginia 
ancestor  of  the  Stratford  Lees,  he  may  have  been  in  this  country  several 
years  before  his  clerkship  in  1641.  From  this  date  on,  however,  there  is 


'See  Supplementary  Records,  I : Ancestors  of  the  Lee  of  Shropshire. 


8 STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

no  more  obscurity  or  uncertainty  about  the  Richard  Lee  who  became  the 
founder  of  the  Lee  family  of  this  record.  Of  the  many  other  Lees,  possi- 
bly relatives,  possibly  not,  who  also  settled  in  York  and  Gloucester 
counties  at  this  same  period,  but  little  is  known. 

Richard  Lee’s  first  home  in  Virginia  was  on  Gloucester  Point  opposite 
the  early  settlement  which  later  became  Yorktown.  According  to  the 
family  records,  he  lived  there  after  his  arrival  in  the  Colony.  His  first 
grant  of  land  was  in  another  locality  of  Gloucester  County.  This  was  a 
plantation  of  one  thousand  acres  granted  to  Lee,  August  10,  1642,  by 
Captain  Sir  William  Berkeley,  then  Governor  of  Virginia,  "being  due 
unto  him  (Richard  Lee  Gent,)  for  his  owne  p’sonal  Adventure  his  wife 
Anne  and  John  Francis  and  by  assignment  from  Mr.  Thomas  Hill, 
Florentine  Paine  and  Wm.  Freeman  of  their  right  of  land  for  the 
Transportation  of  Seaventeen  p’sons.” 

The  enchanting  beauty  of  this  part  of  Virginia  moved  him  to  name 
his  plantation  Paradise.  Here  he  built  the  store  and  tobacco  warehouses 
mentioned  in  early  chronicles  of  Gloucester,  oldest  of  the  counties  on 
the  peninsula  between  the  York  and  Rappahannock  rivers.  Lee  con- 
tinued to  obtain  grants  to  other  lands  northward  in  Lancaster,  Northum- 
berland, and  later  in  Westmoreland  and  Fairfax,  the  frontier  regions 
of  the  Potomac.  Among  the  lands  he  patented  were  those  later  acquired 
by  the  Washingtons,  a part  of  which  formed  the  original  tract  of  what 
later  became  the  Mount  Vernon  estate.  Colonel  Lee  named  his  plan- 
tation at  Dividing  Creek  in  Northumberland  County,  Cobbs  Hall. 

Like  many  other  planters,  he  engaged  in  commerce.  He  had  an  interest 
in  two  vessels,  Elizabeth  and  Mary,  plying  between  England  and  Vir- 
ginia. By  the  year  1659  Colonel  Lee  had  "a  faire  estate  in  Virginia,’’  ac- 
cording to  John  Gibbon,4  who  visited  him  and  records:  "The  product  of 
his  Tobacco  amounted  to  £2000  per  annum.”  This,  added  to  the  annual 
rent  of  800  pounds  he  received  from  his  Stratford  estate  in  England, 
placed  him  among  the  affluent  planters  of  the  Colony. 

From  the  minor  office  of  court  clerk  he  rose  rapidly  in  political  posi- 
tion in  the  Colony.  By  December  of  the  same  year  in  which  he  served  as 
clerk  of  court  he  was  clerk  of  the  Council.  Later  he  became  high  sheriff 
of  York  County  and  Burgess  from  York.  From  1643  to  1649  he  was  also 
serving  as  Attorney  General  of  Virginia,  being  the  first  of  whom  there 
is  record  to  hold  this  office.  In  1649  Lee  became  Secretary  of  State  and 
eleven  years  later  a member  of  the  Council. 


‘Member  of  the  College  of  Heralds ; father  of  Gibbon  the  historian. 


THE  PROVENANCE  OE  THE  STRATFORD  LEES 


9 


Richard  Lee  is  described  by  his  great-grandson,  William  Lee,  as  "a 
man  of  good  stature,  comely  visage,  an  enterprising  genius,  a sound 
head,  vigorous  spirit  and  generous  nature.” 

Colonel  Lee’s  association  with  Governor  Berkeley  was  always  close. 
In  1649,  when  the  grim  news  of  the  beheading  of  Charles  the  First 
reached  Jamestown,  Lee,  as  Secretary  of  State,  was  evidently  appointed 
bv  Governor  Berkeley  to  deliver  an  invitation  to  Charles  the  Second 
to  come  to  Virginia.  This  interesting  voyage  is  spoken  of  by  John  Gib- 
bon, who  left  this  record  in  his  Introductio  Ad  Latinam  Blasoniam: 

"A  great  part  of  Anno  1659,  till  February  the  year  following,  I lived 
in  Virginia,  being  most  hospitably  entertained  by  the  Flonourable  Col- 
lonel  Richard  Lee,  some  time  Secretary  of  State  there;  and  who  after  the 
King’s  martyrdom  hired  a Dutch  vessel,  freighted  her  himself,  went  to 
Brussels,  surrendered  up  Sir  William  Barcklaies  old  commission  (for 
the  Government  of  that  Province)  and  received  a new  one  from  his 
present  Majesty  (a  loyal  action  and  deserving  my  commemoration).” 
In  reference  to  Virginia’s  invitation  to  Charles  the  Second  and  its 
reception  by  his  Majesty,  John  Esten  Cooke  says: 

The  great  body  of  the  Virginia  population  was  unquestionably  Cavalier  fin 
sympathy],  and  the  restoration  of  the  royal  authority  in  England  was  accom- 
panied by  its  restoration  in  Virginia;  but  the  latter  did  not  precede  the  former. 
There  is  no  doubt  whatever  that  if  the  Virginians  could  have  restored  the  King 
earlier  they  would  have  done  so;  and  Berkeley,  who  is  known  to  have  been 
in  close  communication  and  consultation  with  the  leading  Cavaliers,  had  sent 
word  to  Charles  II  in  Holland,  toward  the  end  of  the  Commonwealth,  that  he 
would  raise  his  flag  in  Virginia  if  there  was  a prospect  of  success.  This  incident 
has  been  called  in  question.  It  is  testified  to  by  William  Lee,  Sheriff  of  London, 

. . . [a  great-grandson]  of  Richard  Lee,  Berkeley’s  emissary,  as  a fact 

within  his  knowledge.  Charles  declined  the  offer,  but  was  always  grateful  to 
the  Virginians.  The  country  is  said  to  have  derived  from  the  incident  its  name 
of  the  'Old  Dominion,”  where  the  King  was  King,  or  might  have  been,  before 
he  was  King  in  England;  and  the  motto  of  the  old  Virginia  shield,  "En  dat 
Virginia  quartam,”  in  allusion  to  England,  Scotland,  Ireland,  and  Virginia,  is 
supposed  to  have  also  originated  at  this  time. 

Although  he  was  an  ardent  Loyalist,  Colonel  Richard  Lee  did  not 
hesitate  to  oppose  certain  policies  of  Charles  II  which  he  held  to  be  dis- 
advantageous to  Virginia.  In  the  British  Museum  is  a copy  of  the  Vir- 
ginia Remonstrance  (March  28,  1663)  against  the  King’s  granting  lands 
in  the  Northern  Neck  to  some  of  his  favorite  lords,  which  Lee  signed 
with  Berkeley,  Francis  Moryson,  Thomas  Ludwell,  Nathaniel  Bacon, 
John  Carter,  Theodore  [Theodorick]  Bland,  Henry  Corbvn,  and  others. 


Huilwll 


Corbiit 


IF ood  carving  of  Lee  Arms  on  the  door  of 
old  Cobbs  Hall,  home  of  the  first  Rich 
ard  Lee. 


THE  PROVENANCE  OF  THE  STRATFORD  LEES 


11 


Colonel  Lee  had  a family  of  six  sons  and  two  daughters.  The  sons  he 
placed  at  school  or  college  in  England.  At  one  time  his  entire  family 
appear  to  have  lived  there,  and  Richard  made  frequent  voyages  back 
and  forth  from  Virginia.  His  last  voyage  was  in  1663,  when  he  made  his 
will.  Returning  to  Virginia,  he  died  at  Cobbs  Hall  March  1,  1664,  and 
was  buried  there. 

Proof  of  the  immediate  locality  in  England  from  which  the  emigrant 
Richard  came  is  found  in  his  will:  . .1,  Colonel  Richard  Lee,  of 

Virginia,  and  lately  of  Stratford  Langton,  in  the  County  of  Essex, 
Esquire  ...”  This  estate  he  ordered  to  be  sold  immediately  after  his 
death  and  improvements  made  on  his  Virginia  plantations  from  the  pro- 
ceeds of  the  sale.  "Also  my  will  and  earnest  desire  is  that  my  good 
friends  will  with  all  convenient  speed  cause  my  wife  and  children  . . . 
to  be  transported  to  Virginia.” 

Further  reference  to  Colonel  Lee’s  English  home  appears  in  a court 
document  dated  some  nine  years  later  "executed  by  Thomas  Youell  of 
Nominy  in  Westmoreland  and  Anne  Youell,  wife  of  Ye  s^  Thomas, 
one  of  ye  daughters  of  Coll:  RiclH  Lee  late  of  Stratford  Langthorn  in 
Ye  Co:  of  Essex  deceased:  Deed  of  release  unto  John  Lee  dated  23d 
June,  1673,  in  which  they  relinquish  all  claim  to  any  share  in  the  estate 
of  Colonel  Richard  Lee.” 

Lee’s  Stratford  estate  in  England  which  was  sold  was  originally  a part 
of  the  demesne  lands  of  the  ancient  manor  of  Westham,  site  of  the 
Abbey  of  Stratford-Langthorne"’  (which  had  been  founded  in  1135,  and 
dissolved  in  1539). 

Westham  Manor,  or  parish,  was  divided  into  four  wards,  of  which 
Stratford-Langthorne  was  one.  Stratford  itself  was  divided  into  the 
Grove,  Angel  Lane,  and  Maryland  Point,  a part  of  Stratford  Green. 
Situated  in  the  Grove  was  an  old  mansion  called  Stratford  House." 
While  this  ancient  house  itself  is  not  specifically  mentioned  in  any  record 
as  having  been  the  estate  purchased  by  Richard  Lee  of  Shropshire  for  his 
new  home  in  Essex,  it  might  readily  have  been  so.  It  was  evidently  the 
one  prominent  dwelling  in  Stratford-Langthorne. 

The  designation  of  Maryland  Point  in  Stratford-Langthorne  is  not 
without  its  significance:  "[This]  is  a cluster  of  Houses  near  Stratford: 
the  first  of  them  were  erected  by  a Merchant  who  had  got  fortune  in 

'See  Supplementary  Records,  II : Stratford-Langthorne. 

'The  ancient  dwelling,  Stratford  House,  became  the  residence  of  Sir  John  Henniker,  baronet, 
in  the  year  1765,  a little  over  a hundred  years  after  Richard  Lee  of  Virginia  ordered  his  estate 
of  Stratford  sold.  This  is  the  ownership  to  which  it  is  chiefly  ascribed  in  published  references. 


12  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

that  colony,  from  whence  they  took  their  name.”  Might  not  this  have 
referred  to  Richard  Lee  of  Virginia?  He  patented  lands  in  the  province 
of  Maryland  as  well  as  in  Virginia.  It  is  an  interesting  point. 

Further  research  into  the  annals  of  Westham  Manor  may  prove  that 
this  original  Stratford  House  was  the  birthplace  of  the  founder  of  the 
Lees  of  Virginia.  There  must  have  been  some  very  close  association  and 
endearing  memories  in  the  Lee  family  of  Virginia  with  Stratford  House 
in  England,  for  Thomas,  the  grandson  of  Richard  Lee,  took  the  name 
for  his  home  on  Potomac. 

3 

The  Honorable  Philip  Ludwell,  Esquire,  was  "the  immediate  Vice- 
regent and  Representative  of  the  King,  in  ordinary  and  extraordinary,” 
to  use  the  words  of  Thomas  Jefferson.7  This  characterization  evidently 
referred  to  the  period  when  he  was  serving  as  Proprietary  Governor  of 
the  Carolinas.  He  emigrated  from  England  to  Virginia  about  1660  and 
took  a leading  part  in  the  affairs  of  government.  His  term  of  official 
service  for  Virginia  embraced  fifty  years. 

The  wealth  and  power  of  his  eldest  brother  Thomas,  who  had  come 
to  the  Colony  some  years  before,  doubtless  had  its  influence  in  opening 
opportunities  for  Philip.  Thomas  was  serving  as  Secretary  of  State  when 
his  younger  brother  arrived,  and  was  later  President  of  the  Council. 
His  plantation,  Rich  Neck,  adjoined  Governor  Berkeley’s  estate,  Green 
Spring,  a Tudor  mansion  known  as  the  Castle,  according  to  a memo- 
randum of  Thomas  Lee  Shippen.  From  this  first  great  house  in  the 
American  colonies,  built  in  1646,  were  derived  several  of  the  archi- 
tectural features  of  Stratford  Hall,  built  over  three  generations  later. 

Not  only  were  Thomas  Ludwell  and  Governor  Berkeley  friends, 
neighbors  and  political  associates — reactionaries  from  Nathaniel  Bacon’s 
point  of  view — but  they  had  the  bond  of  a still  earlier  association.  Both 
came  from  the  same  place  in  England,  Bruton  Parish,  Somersetshire. 
Historic  Bruton  Church  in  Williamsburg  perpetuates  the  name.  "There 
can  be  no  doubt,”  says  Meade  in  Old  Churches,  Ministers  and  Families 
of  Virginia,  "but  that  the  name  Bruton  was  given  to  the  parish  in 
honour  of  Thomas  Ludwell,  who  came  from  a place  of  that  name  in 
England.  Originally  the  parish  was  called  Middletowne,  when,  in  1658, 
the  inhabitants  of  Middle  Plantation  (Williamsburg)  and  of  Harop 
Parish  (between  it  and  Warwick)  were  united  into  one.” 

The  genesis  of  the  Ludwells  in  England  has  points  of  historic  interest, 


vSee  Supplementary  Records,  III : Ludwell. 


Sir  William  Berkeley,  Royal  Governor  of  the  Colony  of  Virginia:  from  the  original  por- 
trait by  an  unknown  artist,  now  in  the  possession  of  Maurice  duPont  Lee,  Green- 
wich, Connecticut . (After  1730  this  portrait  hung  in  Stratford  Hall.) 


Mrs.  Philip  Ludwell,  Lady  Berkeley  (Frances  Culpeper ) , widow  of  Sir  William  Berkeley: 
from  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist,  now  in  the  possession  of  Maurice 
duPont  Lee,  Greenwich,  Connecticut.  (After  1730  this  portrait  hung  in  Stratford 
Hall.) 


THE  PROVENANCE  OE  THE  STRATFORD  LEES  15 

owing  to  their  family’s  connection  with  the  Cavalier  family  of  Cotting- 
ton.  According  to  Lee  of  Virginia,  the  Ludwells  were  of  German 
origin.  William  G.  Stanard  says  they  were  mercers  by  trade  and  settled 
in  Somersetshire  during  the  early  seventeenth  century.  The  English 
progenitor  of  their  family  married  Jane  Cottington,  daughter  of  an 
ancient  and  honorable  house  of  Bruton.  A kinsman  of  this  family  was 
the  diplomat  and  statesman,  Baron  Francis  Cottington,  whose  tomb  is 
in  Westminster  Abbey.  In  1643  he  was  Lord  Treasurer  of  England.  Un- 
doubtedly this  connection  was  of  service  in  the  new  world  to  Thomas 
and  Philip  Ludwell. 

Thomas  Ludwell  never  married,  but  Philip  was  twice  married.  His 
first  marriage,  about  1667,  was  to  Lucy,  daughter  of  the  "valiant  Cap- 
tain” Robert  Higginson.  Of  this  marriage  were  born  his  son  Philip,  and 
his  only  daughter,  named  for  his  mother,  Jane  Cottington.  An  interest- 
ing relationship  with  a famous  American  family  developed  through  the 
marriage  of  this  daughter  to  Colonel  Daniel  Parke,  Junior,  by  which 
she  became  the  ancestress  of  Nelly  Custis  and  of  George  Washington 
Parke  Custis,  the  builder  of  Arlington. 

Philip  Ludwell’s  first  wife  died  about  1675.  This  is  the  time,  in  the 
Lee  family  records,  that  he  moved  from  his  first  house,  Carter’s  Creek 
Plantation,  to  Jamestown.  In  1680  Ludwell  married  Lady  Berkeley, 
widow  of  Governor  Berkeley.  Through  this  marriage  he  eventually  be- 
came the  owner  of  Green  Spring  Plantation. 

From  his  portrait,  which  hung  at  Stratford  for  many  years,  Philip 
Ludwell  was  evidently  a fine  figure.  Tall,  slender,  and  distinguished,  he 
was  a man  of  affairs  and  a born  diplomat.  It  is  apparent  that  he  was 
astute,  sharp  as  a briar  in  the  reading  of  men  and  events,  and  resolute 
in  carrying  out  his  objectives.  The  year  after  his  marriage,  Colonel  Lud- 
well and  his  lady  went  to  England.  Through  Lord  Culpeper,  then 
Royal  Governor  of  Virginia  and  one  of  his  wife’s  kinsmen,  Ludwell 
was  appointed  to  the  Council  to  succeed  Colonel  Daniel  Parke,  who  had 
recently  died. 

Several  years  later  Ludwell  was  again  in  England  as  an  emissary  from 
Virginia  to  protest  against  Lord  Effingham’s  exactions.  He  delivered 
his  petition  from  the  "Commons  of  Virginia  represented  by  the  House 
of  Burgesses”  on  March  28,  1689,  and  was  successful  in  obtaining  practi- 
cally all  of  the  measures  asked  for.  For  his  services  he  received  from  the 
House  of  Burgesses  a vote  of  thanks  for  "his  indefatigable  and  prosper- 
ous endeavours,”  together  with  two  hundred  and  fifty  pounds  sterling 


16  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

to  be  paid  him  as  an  acknowledgment  from  the  country  and  reimburse- 
ment of  his  great  and  necessary  expenses.  At  the  same  time,  he  was  ap- 
pointed Governor  of  Carolina  and  held  office  there  three  years,  appar- 
ently bringing  to  that  disturbed  Colony  a period  of  comparative  peace. 
In  1690  he  was  appointed  Lord  Culpeper's  agent  for  the  Northern  Neck, 
so  that  his  power  and  prestige  were  further  increased.  Three  years  later 
he  was  made  Proprietary  Governor  of  the  Carolinas,  but  a year’s  experi- 
ence of  their  quarrels  made  him  glad  to  return  in  1694  to  Virginia. 

Of  the  service  given  to  Virginia  by  the  Ludwells,  Bruce  says  in  his 
Institutional  History  of  Virginia: 

Thomas  Ludwell  always  a loyal  supporter  of  the  royal  cause,  was  promoted 
to  the  place  in  March,  1 660-1,  and  continued  to  hold  the  office,  apparently 
without  interruption,  until  September,  1676,  when  he  seems  to  have  been 
reappointed,  but  only  filled  the  position  for  a short  time,  as  Daniel  Parke  soon 
became  Secretary  by  the  nomination  of  Governor  Jeffreys.  Parke  was  followed 
by  Philip  Ludwell;  and  Ludwell  by  Nicholas  Spencer.  These  three  men  were 
amongst  the  most  conspicuous  citizens  of  Virginia,  whether  considered  from 
the  point  of  view  of  influential  family  connections,  large  wealth,  or  important 
public  services. 

Henry  Corbin,  founder  of  the  Virginia  Corbins,  was  prominent  as  a 
planter  and  in  the  colonial  government  at  Jamestown.  His  home  in 
England  was  in  Warwickshire.  In  1645  he  married  Alice,  daughter  of 
Richard  Eltonhead  of  County  Lancaster,  England.  Like  Richard  Lee  he 
settled  in  Virginia  during  the  middle  part  of  the  seventeenth  century. 
He  was  serving  as  Burgess  from  Lancaster  County  as  early  as  1659. 
Genealogical  records  of  the  families  Corbin  and  Lee  show  an  interesting 
family  connection  in  England.  As  far  back  as  the  middle  of  the  fifteenth 
century,  there  was  a marriage  between  Johnannes  Lee  of  Nordley,  one 
of  the  ancestors  of  the  Lees,  and  Elizabeth,  daughter  and  coheir  of 
Thomas  Corbyn.  In  Virginia  this  family  relationship  was  repeated  with 
the  marriage  of  Henry  Corbin’s  daughter  Laetitia  to  the  second  Richard 
Lee.  A younger  daughter,  Frances,  became  the  wife  of  Edmund  Jen- 
ings.  The  succeeding  generations  marked  several  other  alliances  be- 
tween Corbins  and  Lees  of  interest  in  this  relation. 

Of  Benjamin  Harrison,  representing  Surry,  it  is  recorded  on  his  tomb 
at  Brandon  on  the  James  River,  that  he  "was  always  loyall  to  his  Prince, 
and  a great  benefactor  to  his  country.”  He  was  a just  man  and  a kind 
one.  Record  of  his  charity  and  personal  force  has  survived  nearly  three 
centuries.  Benjamin  Harrison  succeeded  his  father  in  the  House  of  Bur- 
gesses, in  1680,  at  Jamestown.  He  was  Virginia’s  Attorney  General  in 


Conjectural  restoration  of  ancient  buildings  at  Jamestown,  Virginia,  on  the  foundations 
reputed  by  Samuel  H.  Yonge  to  be  the  site  of  the  fourth  Stale  House,  Philip  Lud- 
we/l's  three  houses,  and  the  country  house. 


1699.  Before  the  turn  of  the  century  he  was  appointed  a member  of  the 
Council  and  remained  a member  until  his  death  in  1712.  His  father, 
Benjamin  Harrison,  founder  of  the  family  in  Virginia,  served  as  clerk 
of  the  Council  in  1633,  and  at  that  time  he  took  up  various  small  grants 
of  land  on  the  south  side  of  the  James  River.  From  a portion  of  his 
land  the  famous  Brandon  estate  was  formed,  the  remainder  being  pur- 
chased from  the  English  owners  by  his  descendant,  Nathaniel  Harrison. 
Through  his  granddaughter,  Hannah  Ludwell,  who  became  the  wife 
of  Thomas  Lee  and  mother  of  the  famous  Lees,  were  handed  down  cer- 
tain qualities  of  character  and  nobility  of  thought  and  act  that  dis- 
tinguished the  Harrison  strain,  and  made  them  loved  and  respected 
among  the  ancient  planters  of  the  James  River. 

That  Theodorick  Bland  of  Westover,  "was  both  in  fortune  and  un- 
derstanding inferior  to  no  person  of  his  time  in  the  country”  is  a state- 
ment quoted  in  Lee  of  Virginia.  Colonel  Bland  was  one  of  four  brothers, 
sons  of  John  Bland  of  London,  to  emigrate  to  Virginia.  He  came  bv 
rather  slow  and  picturesque  stages,  being  first  a merchant  in  Spain  and 
then  in  the  Canary  Islands,  not  reaching  Virginia  until  1653.  He  pur- 
chased the  great  estate  of  Westover  and  made  it  his  home.  In  1659-60 
Colonel  Bland  was  speaker  of  the  House  of  Burgesses  and  in  1666  a 
member  of  the  Council.  Through  his  marriage  to  Anne,  daughter  of 
Richard  Bennett,  he  became  allied  to  one  of  the  most  prominent  and 
influential  families  of  the  Colony.  When  their  son  Richard’s  daughter, 
Mary  (of  Jordan’s  Point  on  James  River),  became  the  wife  of  Henry, 
Richard  Lee’s  son,  important  strains  of  the  old  colonials  were  mingled. 

Edmund  Jenings  was  the  Old  Stander  of  this  group  who  represented 
York  at  James  City.  He  was  a member  of  one  of  the  Cavalier  fami- 
lies of  whom  Beverley  says:  "Thus  in  the  time  of  the  Rebellion  in 
England,  several  good  Cavalier  Families  went  thither  [to  Virginia]  with 

[17] 


18  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

their  Effects,  to  escape  the  Tyranny  of  the  Usurper,  or  Acknowledgement 
of  his  Title.  And  so  again,  upon  the  Restoration,  many  People  of  the 
opposite  Party  took  Refuge  there,  to  shelter  themselves  from  the  King’s 
Resentment.  But  Virginia  had  not  many  of  these  last,  because  that 
Country  was  famous  for  holding  out  the  longest  for  the  Royal  Family, 
of  any  of  the  English  Dominions.” 

Edmund  Jenings  was  born  at  Ripon,  Yorkshire,  England  in  1659, 
the  son  of  Sir  Edmund  Jenings,  and  his  wife,  Margaret,  daughter  of 
Sir  Edward  Barkham,  Lord  Mayor  of  London  in  1621-22.  He  came  to 
Virginia  at  an  early  age,  served  as  Attorney  General  in  1684,  and  in  1701 
was  appointed  to  the  Council  of  which  he  became  president.  He  was 
twice  Secretary  of  State,  and  from  August,  1706,  to  June,  1710,  was 
acting  governor.  Through  his  marriage  into  the  Corbin  family  (to 
Frances,  sister  of  Laetitia,  wife  of  his  friend  the  second  Richard  Lee)  he 
had  a daughter,  Frances,  who  became  the  wife  of  Charles  Grymes  of 
Morattico  Hall,  Richmond  County.  Their  daughter,  Lucy  Grymes,  ac- 
cording to  a tradition  (vouched  for  by  George  Washington  Parke 
Custis,  adopted  son  of  George  Washington)  was  "the  Lowland  Beauty” 
of  Washington’s  youthful  verses.  She  married  the  son  of  Henry  and 
Mary  [Bland]  Lee,  and  became  the  mother  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee 
and  his  four  brothers,  all  distinguished  figures  in  the  history  of  the 
Commonwealth.  These  names,  Lucy  Grymes  Lee  and  Edmund  Jenings 
Lee,  occur  frequently  in  succeeding  generations  of  the  Lee  family. 

4 

The  second  Richard  Lee,  while  Virginia  born,  was  English  bred. 
Devoted  to  scholarly  pursuits,  he  was  not  enthralled,  as  his  father  was, 
with  life  in  the  wilderness.  Born  probably  at  the  Gloucester  plantation, 
Paradise,  in  1647  he  was  sent  with  his  brother  John  to  school  in  England. 
There  is  a family  tradition  that  he  entered  Oxford  at  an  early  age.  "He 
was  so  clever,”  said  his  grandson  [William],  "that  some  great  men  of- 
fered to  promote  him  to  the  highest  dignities  in  the  Church  if  his  Father 
would  let  him  stay  in  England;  but  this  offer  was  refused,  as  the  old 
Gentleman  was  determined  to  fix  all  his  children  in  Virginia.  . . . Rich- 
ard spent  almost  his  whole  life  in  study,  and  usually  wrote  his  notes  in 
Greek,  Hebrew,  or  Latin  ...  so  that  he  neither  diminished  nor  im- 
proved his  paternal  estate.  . . . He  was  of  the  Council  in  Virginia  and 
also  other  offices  of  honor  and  profit,  though  they  yielded  little  to  him.” 

After  his  return  to  Virginia  he  became,  like  his  father,  a Loyalist  and 


THE  PROVENANCE  OF  THE  STRATFORD  LEES  19 

a supporter  of  the  House  of  Stuart.  But  where  the  first  Richard  Lee 
was  zealous  in  the  Loyalist  cause,  his  son  appears  by  comparison  to  have 
been  more  or  less  passive.  He  was,  first  and  last,  a man  of  books — mili- 
tary man,  planter  and  Burgess  perhaps  more  by  reason  of  destiny 
than  of  choice.  His  collection  of  books  at  Matholic  was  one  of  the 
few  celebrated  libraries  of  colonial  Virginia.  While  it  was  not  large,  it 
contained  a more  complete  collection  of  the  classics  than  any  library  in 
the  new  world. 

Richard  Lee  succeeded  his  father  in  the  Council  just  as  his  friend  the 
second  Philip  Ludwell  succeeded  his.  He  represented  Westmoreland 
where  his  father  had  represented  Gloucester  and  Northumberland.  "Of 
Cople”  or  "of  Matholic”  was  usually  written  after  his  name,  as  designat- 
ing the  locality  from  which  he  came.  Cople  was  one  of  the  two  parishes 
of  Westmoreland  County,  where  he  now  lived.  Matholic,  also  known  as 
Mt.  Pleasant,  was  a plantation  of  2,600  acres  his  father  had  patented  and 
which  eventually  came  to  him.  It  was  one  of  many  plantations  left  the 
family  by  his  father.  His  marriage  to  Henry  Corbin’s  daughter  Laetitia 
took  place  about  1674. 

Some  three  or  four  years  later,  when,  as  a member  of  the  Council, 
Lee  opposed  the  measures  advocated  by  Nathaniel  Bacon,  he  was  seized 
by  Bacon’s  men  and  imprisoned.  A report  to  the  English  government 
(under  date  of  the  15th  of  March,  1677-8)  of  those  who  had  suffered 
by  Bacon’s  rebellion,  states:  "Major  Richard  Lee,  a Loyall  Discreet 
Person  worthy  of  the  Place  to  which  hee  was  lately  advanced  of  being 
one  of  his  Majesties  Council  in  Virginia,  and  as  to  his  loses  wee  are 
credibly  informed  they  were  very  great  and  that  hee  was  Imprisoned  by 
Bacon  above  seaven  weekes  together  at  least  100  miles  from  his  owne 
home  whereby  hee  received  great  Prejudice  in  his  health  by  hard  usage 
and  very  greatly  in  his  whole  Estate  by  his  absence.” 

Richard  Lee  seems  to  have  held  important  posts  continually  from 
about  1678  to  his  death.  Governor  Spotswood  described  him  as  "a 
gentleman  of  as  fair  character  as  any  in  the  country  for  his  exact  justice, 
honesty  and  unexceptional  loyalty.  In  all  the  stations  wherein  he  has 
served  in  this  government,  he  has  behaved  himself  with  great  integrity 
and  sufficiency.”  Beverley  also  refers  to  his  effective  services  and  his  high 
standing,  especially  in  connection  with  certain  of  the  complications 
arising  in  October,  1688,  out  of  the  patent  for  the  Northern  Neck. 

Richard  Lee’s  name  appears  as  colonel  for  both  Westmoreland  and 
Richmond  in  a list  of  the  principal  officers  of  militia  appointed  in  1680 


20  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

and  again  in  1699-  Among  those  appointed  on  this  last  date  for  their 
respective  counties  were  his  colleagues  of  the  Council  or  House  of  Bur- 
gesses: Philip  Ludweli,  Edmund  Jenings,  Robert  Carter,  George  Mason, 
and  John  Custis.8  He  is  spoken  of  as  "Coll:  Richard  Lee,  of  the  Horse 
in  ye  counties  of  Westmoreland,  Northumberland,  and  Stafford.’’  He 
was  appointed  "Naval  Officer  and  Receiver  of  Virginia  Dutys  for  the 
River  Potomac,"  in  1699  by  Sir  Edmund  Andros,  governor. 

He  died  in  1714  at  Matholic,  and  was  buried  in  the  family  burial 
ground  in  the  garden — named  fifteen  years  later,  when  the  house  burned 
down,  Burnt  House  Fields.  The  grave  of  his  wife  is  beside  his.  Bishop 
Meade  visited  Matholic  and  wrote  in  his  Old  Churches,  Ministers  and 
Families  of  Virginia:  "From  a tombstone  in  the  Burnt-House  Fields, 
at  Mount  Pleasant,  Westmoreland  County,  where  are  yet  to  be  seen  the 
foundations  of  large  buildings,  are  the  following: 

Hie  conditur  corpus  Richardi  Lee,  Armigeri,  nati  in  Virginia,  filii  Richardi 
Lee,  generosi,  et  antiqua  familia,  in  Merton-Regis,  in  comitatu  Salopiensi, 
oriundi. 

In  magistratum  obeundo  boni  publici  studiosissimi,  in  literis  Graecis  et 
Latinis  et  aliis  humanioris  literaturae  disciplinis  versatissimi. 

Deo,  quem,  summa  observantia  semper  coluit,  animam  tranquillus  reddidit 
xii.  mo.  die  Martii,  anno  MDCCXIV.  aetat.  LXVIII.” 

Hie,  juxta,  situm  est  corpus  Laetitiae  ejusdem  uxoris  fidae,  filiae  Henrici 
Corbyn,  generosi,  liberorum,  matris  amantissimae,  pietate  erga  Deum,  charitate 
erga  egenos,  benignitate  erga  omnes  insignis.  Obiit  Octob  die  vi.  MDCCVL 
aetatis  XLIX. 

Here  lieth  the  body  of  Richard  Lee,  Esq.,  born  in  Virginia,  son  of  Richard 
Lee,  Gentleman,  descended  of  an  ancient  family  of  Merton-Regis,  in  Shropshire. 

While  he  exercised  the  office  of  a magistrate  he  was  a zealous  promoter  of 
the  public  good.  He  was  very  skilful  in  the  Greek  and  Latin  languages  and 
other  parts  of  polite  learning.  He  quietly  resigned  his  soul  to  God,  whom  he 
always  devoutly  worshipped,  on  the  12th  day  of  March,  in  the  year  1714,  in 
the  68th  year  of  his  age. 

Near  by  is  interred  the  body  of  Laetitia,  his  faithful  wife,  daughter  of  Henry 
Corbyn,  Gentleman.  A most  affectionate  mother,  she  was  also  distinguished  by 
piety  toward  God,  charity  to  the  poor,  and  kindness  to  all.  She  died  on  the  6th 
day  of  October,  1706,  in  the  49th  year  of  her  age. 

Like  the  second  Richard  Lee,  the  second  Philip  Ludweli  also  became 
a leading  figure  in  the  colonial  life  of  Virginia.  From  his  portrait  by 
Sir  Godfrey  Kneller,  he  appears  to  have  resembled  his  mother,  Lucy 
Higginson.  He  does  not  seem  so  sharp  or  astute  as  his  father,  perhaps, 
but  more  friendly  and  approachable.  He  succeeded  his  father  in  a num- 


*Calendar  of  Virginia  State  Papers,  Colonial  Series,  1699. 


The  second  Philip  Ludwell,  grandfather  of  the  Stratford  Lees:  from  the  original  portrait 
by  Sir  Godfrey  Kneller. 


22  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

ber  of  his  official  positions.  In  1695  he  represented  James  City  County 
as  Burgess  and  in  1702  became  a councillor  to  Queen  Anne.  Altogether 
he  gave  about  twenty-five  years’  official  service  to  the  Colony.  On  No- 
vember 11,  1687,  he  married  Hannah,  daughter  of  his  father’s  friend 
and  fellow  councillor,  the  Honorable  Benjamin  Harrison,  Esquire,  of 
Surry.  That  Hannah  Harrison  "was  very  pretty”  is  a family  note  sur- 
viving over  two  centuries.  Also,  that  she  was  "pious,  charitable,  and  hos- 
pitable,” and  that  she  lived  "an  exemplary  life  in  chearful  innocence.” 

Philip  and  Hannah  Ludwell  established  their  first  home  at  Rich  Neck, 
the  plantation  originally  belonging  to  his  celebrated  uncle  Thomas.  A 
portion  of  the  original  Ludwell  properties,  directly  across  Archer’s 
Creek  on  the  west  side,  had  been  sold  some  years  before,  and  here  in 
1692,  Beverley  says:  "The  College  was  founded  by  their  late  Majesties, 
King  William  and  Queen  Mary  of  happy  Memory.” 

At  Rich  Neck,  according  to  the  record  in  Lee  of  Virginia,  "on  the 
5th  day  of  December,  anno  Dom.  1701,  being  fryday,  about  nine  of  the 
clock  at  night  ...”  was  born  to  Philip  and  Hannah  (Harrison) 
Ludwell,  their  daughter  Hannah.  She  was  destined  to  become  through 
her  marriage  to  Thomas  Lee  the  mother  of  the  Stratford  Lees.  When 
Hannah  was  three  or  four  years  old  the  Ludwells  moved  to  their  Green 
Spring  Plantation,  the  old  Castle,  built  by  Governor  Berkeley  in  1646. 
This  was  to  be  their  home  for  the  rest  of  their  lives,  and  their  children’s 
after  them,  both  Ludwells  and  Lees,  for  one  hundred  and  twenty-five 
years. 

The  second  Philip  Ludwell  was  affiliated  with  the  college  then  being 
built  on  lands  once  belonging  to  his  family.  In  1705,  and  in  1716,  he 
was  a Visitor  of  the  College  of  William  and  Mary.  His  family  was  con- 
nected with  that  of  the  founder  of  the  college  through  the  marriage  of 
his  sister-in-law,  Sarah  Harrison,  to  Commissary  Blair.  In  the  year  1710, 
Philip  Ludwell  was  appointed  by  Governor  Alexander  Spotswood,  Dep- 
uty Auditor  General  for  the  Colony.  His  commission  reads  in  part: 

. .1  therefore  reposing  especial  trust  and  confidence  in  your  loyalty, 
prudence  and  fidelity,  do  . . . constitute  . . . you  . . . Deputy  Auditor 
of  her  Majesty’s  revenues.  . . . Given  under  my  hand  and  seal  of  the 
Colony  this  14th  Day  of  May,  1710,  in  the  10th  year  of  her  Majestv’s 
reign.  . . In  this  capacity  he  represented  Virginia  with  Nathaniel 
Harrison,  his  brother-in-law,  on  the  commission  to  settle  the  boundarv 
between  Virginia  and  North  Carolina. 


THE  PROVENANCE  OF  THE  STRATFORD  LEES 


23 


5 

The  Ludwell  lands  formed  a large  part  of  James  City  County.  In- 
cluded in  these  holdings  were  grants  on  Jamestown  Island,  properties 
within  and  without  the  corporate  limits  of  Williamsburg,  and  the  great 
plantations  of  Rich  Neck,  Chippokes,  and  Green  Spring.  To  the  second 
Philip  Ludwell  descended  the  combined  properties  of  Thomas  and  the 
first  Philip,  and  all  of  the  Berkeley  estates  on  both  sides  of  the  river 
James.  The  Ludwell  grandfather  of  the  Stratford  Lees  was  thus  one  of 
the  largest  landholders  in  the  James  River  region. 

The  lands  of  the  Lees,  16,000  acres  in  all,  lay  farther  to  the  north  and 
east,  on  the  peninsulas  between  the  York,  Rappahannock  and  Potomac 
rivers,  and  were  washed  by  these  long  tidal  reaches  of  the  Chesapeake 
Bay,  which  made  the  road  to  England  much  nearer  for  the  Lees  than  for 
the  planters  of  Surry  and  James  City  Counties.  Here  were  the  Lee  homes, 
tobacco  plantations,  warehouses,  storehouses,  mills,  and  shipyards.  The 
holdings  of  the  Lees  and  Ludwells  contained  larger  tracts  of  land  than 
those  of  most  of  their  contemporaries.  Together,  they  comprised  a small 
kingdom. 

As  the  Lees  and  Ludwells  worked  for  many  a year  in  the  first  English 
settlement  on  the  North  American  continent,  so  here  at  this  day  lie  their 
dead.  In  the  churchyard  of  the  first  Anglican  church  in  the  new  world 
are  the  graves  of  the  grandparents  of  the  Stratford  Lees,  Philip  Ludwell, 
and  Hannah  Harrison,  his  wife.  These  inscriptions  are  written  on  their 
tombstones: 

Here  lies  interred  the  body  of  PHILIP  LLJDWELL 
who  died  the  11th  of  January  1726  in  the  34th  year  of 
his  age,  sometime  auditor  of  his  Majesty’s  revenue 
and  twenty-five  years  member  of  the  Council. 

Under  this  Stone  lies  interred 
The  Body  of 

Mrs.  HANNAH  LUDWELL 
Relict  of 

The  Hon.  Philip  Ludwell,  Esq., 

By  whom  She  has  left 
One  SON  and  Two  DAUGHTERS. 

After  a most  Exemplary  Life 
Spent  in  chearful  Innocence 

And  The  continual  Exercise  of 

Piety  Charity  and  Hospitality 
She  Patiently  Submitted  to 
Death  on  the  4th  Day  of  April  1731  in  the  52(1 
Year  of  Her  Age. 


24  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Close  by,  surmounted  with  the  Ludwell  arms,  is  the  gravestone  of 
Lady  Frances  Berkeley,  who  was  Philip  Ludwell’s  foster  mother  from 
his  earliest  childhood.  Not  far  from  the  graves  of  Philip  Ludwell  and 
Hannah  is  that  of  their  grandson,  William  Lee  of  Stratford  Hall,  later  of 
Green  Spring.  His  daughter  Cornelia  has  recorded  his  death  in  these 
words:  ''Greenspring,  Virginia,  Saturday,  27  June,  1795,  at  20  minutes 
after  six  in  the  afternoon,  my  dearest  Father  was  taken  from  this  turbu- 
lent and  mortal  state,  after  a lingering  Illness  of  ten  months,  aet.  55  years 
9 months  and  27  days.  On  the  28th  June  at  6 o’clock  the  precious  remains 
were  interred  in  James  Town  Church  Yard  at  the  south  end  of  the 
graves  of  my  Great  Grandfather  and  Grandmother  Ludwell.” 

The  broken  rail  fence  surrounding  the  ancient  churchyard  was  torn 
down  by  William  Lee’s  son,  William  Ludwell  Lee,  and  John  Ambler, 
who  put  up  in  its  place  a solid  wall,  made  of  fallen  brick  from  the  long 
deserted  church,  then  fast  going  into  ruin.  William  Ludwell  Lee  sur- 
vived his  father  only  eight  years.  He  died  on  the  twenty-fourth  of  Janu- 
ary, 1803,  in  the  twenty-eighth  year  of  his  age,  and  was  buried  beside 
his  father.  In  his  will  he  said:  "I  desire  that  my  body  may  be  committed 
to  the  earth  near  the  grave  of  my  dear  respected  father  in  the  church 
yard  at  James  Town.  The  spot  where  I wish  to  be  interred  is  designated 
by  two  pegs  of  Sycamore  on  the  south  side  of  the  grave  of  my  late 
father.” 

Thus  in  the  churchyard  on  Jamestown  Island  and  in  Burnt  House 
Fields  of  Westmoreland  lie  the  dead  of  these  ancient  American  families, 
who  for  nearly  three  centuries  meant  so  much  to  the  Colony  of  Virginia, 
the  State  and  to  the  Republic.  Their  records  are  more  closely  knit  with 
those  of  latter  day  Jamestown  and  eighteenth  century  Williamsburg  than 
are  those  of  any  other  colonial  family.  Here  they  made  their  laws,  built 
up  their  properties,  and  made  their  marriages.  All  the  first  influences, 
associations,  "native  parts”  of  the  various  strains  that  bred  the  Stratford 
Lees  met  and  mingled  here — Lee  and  Ludwell,  Corbin,  Harrison,  Bland, 
and  Jenings.  In  every  sense  here  was  their  provenance. 


CHAPTER  II:  THE  RECORD  OF  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


H ][  SHOMAS  LEE  was  truly  a Virginian,  in  a sense  the  first  of  his 
family  to  be  so.  His  grandfather  had  been  born  in  England  and, 
although  his  father  was  a native  Virginian,  he  was  in  spirit  always 
an  Englishman.  But  Thomas  was  identified  with  the  Colony,  its  people 
and  its  interests,  from  the  time  he  was  a very  young  man.  Resourceful, 
independent,  adventurous,  and  far-seeing,  he  made  a position  for  him- 
self in  the  remote  region  of  the  Northern  Neck  before  he  was  twenty- 
one  years  old.  The  fourth  son  of  Richard  and  Laetitia  Lee  of  Cople 
Parish,  County  of  Westmoreland,  he  was  born  in  1690  at  Matholic,  the 
house  built  by  his  father  on  lands  patented  forty  years  before  by  the  first 
Richard  Lee.  Matholic  Plantation  was  the  first  of  the  Lee  houses  in 
Westmoreland  and  adjoined  the  Corbin  plantation,  Peckatone. 

Thomas  Lee’s  son  William  wrote  of  him:  ”...  with  none  but  a com- 
mon Virginia  Education,  yet  having  strong  natural  parts,  long  after  he 
was  a man,  he  learned  the  Languages  without  any  assistance  but  his  own 
genius,  and  became  a tolerable  adept  in  Greek  and  Latin.” 

The  treasures  of  his  father’s  rare  library  at  Matholic  must  have  af- 
forded him  much  pleasure  throughout  his  entire  youth.  Here  were  the 
classics  his  father  read:  Aristotle,  Epictetus,  Hippocrates,  Homer,  Thu- 
cydides, Xenophon,  Hisop,  Cesar,  Diogenes,  Ovid,  Virgil — some  of 
which  Thomas  also  learned  to  read  in  the  original.  There  was  a collec- 
tion of  Francis  Bacon’s  works;  a folio  of  annals  of  the  world,  a little 
description  of  the  great  world,  Sir  Walter  Raleigh’s  History  of  the 
World,  a Treatise  of  Famous  Places,  the  Annals  of  Queen  Ann.  A corn- 
pleat  book  of  Sea  laws  in  four  volumes,  Wing’s  art  of  Surveying,  and 
Kebb’s  fustice  of  peace,  were  probably  his  texts,  for  in  addition  to  the 
languages  which  he  learned,  Thomas  Lee  acquired  enough  knowl- 
edge of  the  law  to  serve  as  justice  of  the  peace  and  as  agent  for  the  most 
important  estate  of  the  Colony. 

In  1711,  when  only  twenty-one,  he  received  the  coveted  appointment 
of  resident  agent  for  the  Northern  Neck,  the  office  held  in  the  late  seven- 
teenth century  by  the  first  Philip  Ludwell.  Lee  succeeded  no  less  a man 
than  Robert  Carter  of  Corotoman,  termed  bv  Beverley  "the  greatest 
Freeholder  in  that  Proprietary.” 

Lady  Fairfax,  widow  of  Lord  Fairfax,  Proprietor  of  the  Northern 
Neck,  came  into  possession  of  this  territory  after  her  husband’s  death. 
The  thickly  wooded  peninsula  between  the  tidal  rivers  Potomac  and 


[25] 


26  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Rappahannock  was  a part  of  this  domain.  The  appointment  of  young 
Lee  to  take  charge  of  Lady  Fairfax’s  complicated  interests  in  the  Colony 
is  recorded  in  Westmoreland  Courthouse: 

Dec.  7,  1711.  Lady  Fairfax  letter  of  Atty.  to  Mr.  Lee:  Tenth  year  of  the  reign 
of  Queen  Ann  &c. — Before  Wm.  Scorey  Notary  publick  in  London  &c. — ap- 
peared Honble  Catherine  Lady  Fairfax  of  Leeds  Castle  in  County  of  Kent,  relict 
of  Honble  Thomas  Lord  Fairfax,  Baron  Camaroon  in  part  of  Great  Britian 
called  Scotland — revoking  a letter  of  Attorney  by  her  given  to  Coll.  Robert 
Carter  of  Virginia  &c. — Doth  now  constitute  Thomas  Lee  of  the  County  of 
Westmoreland  in  Virginia,  Merchant  her  true  and  lawful  Attorney — Given 
unto  him  full  power  and  authority  for  and  in  the  name  and  to  the  use  of  the 
sd.  constituant — to  recover  and  receive  all  such  quit  rents  and  arrears  of  quit 
rents  &c.  as  she  is  Lady  proprietor  of  the  five  Counties  of  the  Northern  Neck 
&c. 

She  Hereby  promising  to  hold  and  ratify  for  good  and  valid  whatsoever  her 
sd.  Atty.  or  his  substitute  shall  lawfully  doe  &c. 

Wit:  Thomas  Jones, 

Sam'l  Richardson, 

Recorded  Aug.  27,  1712. 

Lee’s  appointment  was  secured  through  the  influence  of  his  uncle, 
Thomas  Corbin,  a tobacco  merchant  in  London,  who  recommended  his 
enterprising  nephew  for  the  post.  Their  kinsman,  Edmund  Jenings,  was 
the  nominal  agent,  but  Thomas  Lee,  doing  the  actual  work,  had  com- 
plete authority  and  established  his  business  office  at  Matholic. 

In  1713  Thomas  Lee  succeeded  his  father  as  Naval  Officer  of  the 
south  side  of  the  Potomac,  another  remunerative  colonial  office.  A con- 
siderable profit  pertained  to  this  position,  arising,  as  Beverley  says: 

From  large  Fees,  upon  the  entring  and  clearing  of  all  Shipes  and  Vessels.  . . . 

The  Naval  Officers  other  Profits,  are  ten  per  Cent,  for  all  Moneys  by  them 
received;  both  on  the  two  Shillings  per  Hogshead,  Port-Duties,  Skins  and  Furs, 
and  also  on  the  new  Imposts  on  Servants  and  Liquors,  when  such  Duty  is  in 
being. 

In  giving  such  a lucrative  and  much  coveted  appointment  to  young 
Thomas  Lee,  Governor  Spotswood  said:  "When  his  [Richard  Lee’s] 
advanced  age  would  no  longer  permit  him  to  execute  to  his  own  satis- 
faction the  duty  of  Naval  Officer  of  the  same  district,  I thought  I could 
not  better  reward  his  merit  than  by  bestowing  that  employment  on  his 
son.”  Colonel  Richard  Lee  died  the  following  year. 

Thomas  Lee’s  duties  as  naval  officer  and  as  resident  agent  for  the 
"Lady  Proprietor”  of  the  Northern  Neck,  necessitated  a wide  and  exact 
geographical  knowledge  of  the  country  as  well  as  a specific  acquaint- 
ance with  the  agricultural  and  industrial  conditions  of  the  community. 


These  wooded  palisades  of  Stratford  on  Potomac  have  a rugged  grandeur  and  mystic 
loveliness.  In  the  days  of  the  early  Lees  eagles  nested  there. 


28  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

He  inherited  from  his  grandfather  the  urge  to  explore  and  to  learn 
about  new  places.  Undoubtedly  he  knew  every  plantation,  every  corner, 
every  landmark  of  the  several  counties  comprising  the  Northern  Neck 
long  before  he  traversed  "the  upper  country”  of  Virginia  or  explored 
the  Potomac  from  its  mouth  to  the  Great  Falls  and  beyond. 

There  is  one  place  in  Westmoreland  County  near  Indian  Tree,  some 
miles  across  country  from  Matholic,  that  has  the  rugged  grandeur 
and  mystic  loveliness  of  the  Great  Falls  region  and  the  Virginia  hill 
country,  with  the  added  beauty  of  an  inland  sea.  For  there  the  Potomac 
enters  the  long  reaches  of  Chesapeake  Bay,  at  least  twenty  miles  above 
what  is  geographically  termed  the  river’s  mouth.  On  the  Virginia  shores, 
high  bluffs  rise  sheer  out  of  the  broad  run  of  the  salt  waters.  These  thick- 
ly wooded  palisades  of  the  Potomac  extend  for  several  miles  between 
Pope’s  Creek  and  Currioman  Bay.  In  the  days  of  the  early  Lees 
eagles  nested  there.  More  picturesque  and  romantic  than  any  other 
spot  on  the  lower  Potomac,  the  Clifts  Plantation  seems  to  have  been  the 
one  place  young  Thomas  Lee  desired  for  his  home. 

At  his  father’s  death,  Matholic  had  been  left  to  Thomas  Lee’s  eldest 
brother,  Richard.  By  the  terms  of  the  will,  Thomas  received  "all  my 
lands  in  the  county  of  Northumberland  at  or  near  the  dividing  creeks,” 
as  well  as  lands  in  the  Province  of  Maryland  adjoining  those  left  to  his 
brother  Philip.  The  lands  in  Northumberland,  like  Matholic,  were  a 
level  plain  but  a few  feet  above  high  tide,  of  one  pattern,  it  seemed, 
with  the  waters  surrounding  them.  To  many  of  the  first  colonists  of  the 
Tidewater  section,  all  Virginia  must  have  appeared  so:  "Some  People 
that  have  been  in  the  Country,”  says  Robert  Beverley,  "without  knowing 
any  thing  of  it,  have  affirm’d,  that  it  is  all  a Flat,  without  any  Mixture 
of  Hills,  because  they  see  the  Coast  to  Seaward  perfectly  level:  Or  else 
they  have  made  their  Judgment  of  the  whole  Country,  by  the  Lands  lying 
on  the  lower  Parts  of  the  Rivers  (which,  perhaps,  they  had  never  been 
beyond)  and  so  conclude  it  to  be  throughout  plain  and  even.  When  in 
truth,  upon  the  Heads  of  the  great  Rivers,  there  are  vast  high  Hills;  and 
even  among  the  Settlements,  there  are  some  so  topping,  that  I have  stood 
upon  them,  and  view’d  the  Country  all  round  over  the  Tops  of  the  high- 
est Trees,  for  many  Leagues  together;  particularly,  there  are  Maivborn 
Hills  in  the  Freshes  of  ]ames  River;  a Ridge  of  Hills  about  fourteen  or 
fifteen  Miles  up  Alattapony  River;  Tolivers  Mount,  upon  Rappahannock 
River;  and  the  Ridge  of  Hills  in  Stafford  County,  in  the  Freshes  of 
Patowmeck  River.” 


THE  RECORD  OF  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


29 


In  this  category  Thomas  Lee  would  have  put  the  Clifts.  This  was  the 
name  given  the  beautiful  plantation  by  its  first  owner,  Lieutenant  Colo- 
nel Nathaniel  Pope,  whose  daughter  Ann  became  the  wife  of  John 
Washington  and  the  ancestress  of  George  Washington. 

The  original  grant  for  the  Clifts  shows  that  one  thousand  and  fifty 
acres  upon  "ye  south  side  of  Potomac”  were  given  and  granted  to  Na- 
thaniel Pope,  Gent,  by  Sir  Edward  Diggs,  Edq.,  ye  19th  of  May  1651. 1,1 

The  Clifts  Plantation  was  some  five  or  six  miles  east  of  Mattox,  the 
plantation  where  Colonel  Pope  lived  and  died.  In  his  will,  probated  in 
1660,  Nathaniel  Pope  writes:  "Unto  my  son  Thomas  Pope,  my  land  and 
plantation  situated  upon  the  Clifts  &c.  ...”  And  among  the  executors 
of  his  will  he  appoints  his  son-in-law,  John  Washington.  In  1661  the 
patent  to  the  Clifts  was  renewed  by  Thomas  Pope,  who  erected  "a  man 
ner  house”  on  the  plantation  to  which  there  were  added  "lands,  servants, 
Cattle  stock  and  appurtenances  thereunto  belonging  &c.  ...”  After 
the  death  of  Thomas  Pope,  his  widow  Johnanna  returned  to  her  home  in 
Bristol,  England.  The  Clifts  was  leased  eventually  to  her  brother-in-law, 
Nathaniel  Pope,  mariner,  of  London. 

In  1715,  or  it  may  have  been  still  earlier,  young  Thomas  Lee  began 
negotiations  to  purchase  this  plantation,  the  most  commanding  site 
on  the  lower  Potomac.  In  February,  1716,  the  preliminaries  for  the 
purchase  had  been  accomplished — all,  at  least,  that  could  be  done  in 
Virginia — and  Lee  got  a lease  of  the  property.  This  lease  is  among  the 
documents  in  the  Westmoreland  Courthouse,  in  Book  6 Deeds  & Wills: 

THIS  INDENTURE  made  13th  February  1716  and  third  year  of  the  reign 
of  Lord  George — 

Between  Nathaniel  Pope  of  London,  Marriner  of  the  one  part  and  Thomas 
Lee  of  the  County  of  Westmoreland  in  Virginia,  Gent,  of  the  other  part — 

THIS  INDENTURE  WITNESSETH:  That  the  sd.  Nathaniel  Pope  for  the 
sum  of  £375-7-0  of  lawful  money  of  Great  Britain  to  him  in  hand  paid  by  the 
said  Thomas  Lee  &c  . . . sd.  Nathaniel  Pope  doth  hereby  acknowledge  to  the 
sd.  Thomas  Lee  and  his  heirs  forever  &c.  the  plantation  called  the  Clifts  plan- 
tation scituated  in  County  of  Westmoreland  on  Potomac  River  in  Virginia 
containing  1,443  Acres  and  all  the  lands,  stock,  servants,  Cattle  and  appurtances 
thereunto  belonging  &c. 

Wit.:  Jno.  Jones,  Thomas  Walker, 

Robert  Wells,  William  Vaughan. 

‘At  approximately  the  same  time,  the  first  Richard  Lee,  who  was  a contemporary  of  the  first 
Nathaniel  Pope,  obtained  a grant  for  the  lands  in  Westmoreland,  later  called  Matholic  Planta- 
tion, and  also  a lease  for  the  lands  that  he  formed  into  his  plantation  Ditchley.  adjoining  Cobbs 
Hall  at  Dividing  Creek  in  the  county  of  Northumberland.  At  that  time  the  greater  part  of  that 
region  of  the  Northern  Neck  was  named  Northumberland  County.  Two  years  later,  in  1653, 
Westmoreland  was  formed. 


Foundation  plan  of  the  Castle  at  Green  Spring,  the  first  Great  House  in  Virginia,  built 
by  Governor  Berkeley  about  1648.  Property  of  Ludwell  and  Lee  families  for  621 
years.  Discovered  and  identified  in  1926  by  Jesse  Dimmick. 


Before  the  purchase  could  be  effected,  however,  it  appears  that  it 
was  necessary  for  Thomas  Lee  to  confer  with  the  widow  of  Richard 
Pope.  Lee’s  desire  to  possess  this  property  is  evidenced  by  the  fact  that 
he  went  to  England  to  complete  the  purchase  of  it.  The  record  of  the 
date  of  his  departure  is  in  the  Westmoreland  Courthouse.  It  shows 
that  he  held  no  court  as  justice  of  the  peace  for  the  year  1716.  The 
reason  given  for  his  not  "swearing”  for  that  year  is  that  he  "being 
designed  a Voyage  at  sea  presumes  t’ would  be  of  little  moment  untill 
his  return  to  take  the  aforesaid  oath.”  Then,  on  May  31,  1716,  is  recorded 
"Thomas  Lee  gone  on  a voyage  to  sea.” 

He  went  with  two  projects  in  mind.  In  1716  Thomas  and  Henry  Lee 
were  living  at  Matholic,  which  belonged  to  their  oldest  brother,  Richard, 
then  in  London.  It  was  necessary  to  obtain  a lease  to  the  property  they 
then  had  under  cultivation.  And  Thomas  Lee  wanted  to  buy  the  Clifts. 
For  these  reasons  he  paid  his  first  visit  to  England,  the  country  his  father 
had  never  left  in  spirit — the  land  where  his  adventurous  grandfather 
had  been  born.  He  remained  th^re  about  a year. 

[30] 


The  Secretary's  House,  Williamsburg. 


32 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


The  indenture  of  lease  to  Matholic  bears  the  date  of  November  6, 
1716,  "between  Richard  Lee,  son  of  Richard  Lee,  Sr.  late  of  Copple 
parish,  Westmoreland  County,  Gent,  and  Reuben  Welch,  Thomas  Lee 
(party  hereto)  and  Henry  Lee  of  Essex  [Westmoreland]  County  &c. — 
on  behalf  of  sd.  Thomas  Lee  do  grant  and  to  farm  letten  unto  sd. 
Thomas  Lee  2600  Acres,  same  lands  late  in  tenure  of  Richard  Lee,  Sr. 
&c.  to  sd.  Thomas  Lee  for  term  of  twenty  one  years — Sd.  Thomas  Lee 
to  pay  sd.  Martha  Lee  &c.  sum  of  tenn  pounds  lawful  money  annually 
of  Great  Britain  at  the  dwelling  house  of  sd.  Martha  in  Goodman’s 
fields  in  parish  of  St.  Mary  White  Chappie  in  the  County  of  Middlesex 
&c.” 


At  this  time  Thomas  Lee  wrote  his  brother  in  Virginia  with  reference 
to  his  purpose  to  buy  the  Clifts: 

London  Novr.  13th  1716 

Dear  Harry 

I am  Just  return’d  from  Gravesend  where  I took  leave  of  Phil.  Lightfoot  in 
the  George  Cap1.  Brookes.  I am  preparing  as  fast  as  I can  for  Virginia.  Your 
Cloths  are  just  come  home.  I have  bo’t  you  a Sattin  Druggit  lin’d,  with  silver 
buttons  and  Bror.  Frs.  is  a Cloth  with  mettle  buttons  both  made  by  my  Taylor 
& I hope  will  fit,  and  both  fashionable  & I hope  will  please.  I can’t  say  in  wk 
Ship  they’l  Come  yet.  This  is  [mutilated]  of  soe  much  hurry  yh  I shall  Cer- 
tainly forget  many  things  for  myself,  wk  Ever  I doe  for  my  friends.  I have 
bo’t  Cousin  Tayloe’s  India  goods  and  with  them  some  for  us,  I have  ordL  [ ?] 
to  be  made  with  Chains  as  I remember  Netherton’s  are,  whose  friends  you  may 
Tell  [ ?]  were  when  I first  came  with  mee  & I promissL  wh  [mutilated]  desired, 
but  they  have  not  bin  with  me  Since,  if  they  [mutilated]  I’ll  serve  ym.  for  his 
sake,  You  need  not  Trouble  yr  Self  abh  moving  for  where  yo  are  y°  may  live 
without  Interruption  & yr.  negroes.  Our  Bror.  is  well  & will  doe  well,  and  our 
Sister  is  Certainly  the  best  woman  in  the  world,  our  Cousins  are  pretty.  I have 
had  all  the  kindness  from  Bror.  I cou’d  des[ire]  I have  wrote  my  friends  by  all 
oppertunitys,  & particularly  Bror.  Phil  Engage  Chilton  to  Adamson  Y©  may 
tell  him  he  may  depend  on  the  same  usage  as  from  our  Bror.  & he  will  be  as 
much  obliged:  1 hope  to  purchase  the  Clifts  [mutilated]  Tell  Phipps  I believe 
I’ve  a satisfactory  answer  from  his  father.  With  Love  to  Brors.  & Sister  & 
Cousin  to  all  my  neighbours  & friends  among  ym.  Jonny  Footman  [ ?]  I long 
to  see  you.  Dear  Harry  I am 

Yr.  most  affe  Bror. 


Harry  Fitzhugh  is  well  of  the  Small  pox.2 


Thomas  Lee 


Before  he  left  England  the  negotiations  for  the  purchase  of  the  Clifts 
were  evidently  concluded. 

His  return  to  Virginia  was  noted  by  a court  record  of  August  28, 


^Richard  Bland  Lee  Papers.  1700-1825,  Library  of  Congress.  The  italics  are  the  author’s. 


THE  RECORD  OE  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


33 


1717:  "Thomas  Lee,  Esq.  appointed  and  nominated  the  Last  Commis- 
sion of  the  Peace— Being  in  Court  moved  to  take  the  oath  and  took  his 
place.’’  He  went  back  to  the  courthouse  in  his  home  county  and  took 
up  his  work  where  he  had  left  off. 

According  to  a memorandum  in  the  Westmoreland  County  records, 
he  took  possession  of  the  Clifts  the  following  summer:  "On  the  9th  day 
of  August  1718  Thomas  Sorrell  being  fully  thereunto  impowered  did 
give  Thomas  Lee  Esq.  within  named  possession  and  seizure  of  the 
manner  house  erected  on  the  second  Clift  as  also  by  delivering  him  turf 
& twigg  on  the  same  plantation  in  token  of  livery  and  seizure  of  the 
whole  lands  and  appurtenances  within  mentioned  and  quiett  possession 
of  same  &c.” 

2 

In  1720  there  were  but  ten  settled  counties  in  Virginia.  The  earlv 
settlements  on  the  James,  the  York,  the  Rappahannock,  and  the  Potomac 
had  expanded  with  the  passing  generations,  and  in  lower  Tidewater 
now  reached  from  Chesapeake  Bay  to  the  Falls  of  the  James.  In  other 
parts  of  the  Colony  was  only  the  occasional  log  cabin  of  the  frontiers- 
man. The  greater  part  of  the  country  still  lay  unsettled,  unexplored. 

In  this,  his  thirtieth  year,  Thomas  Lee’s  career  passed  from  local  to 
state  affairs,  from  the  Northern  Neck  to  the  colonial  capital  at  Wil- 
liamsburg. He  was  elected  by  the  Freeholders  of  Westmoreland  one  of 
the  county’s  two  representatives  in  the  House  of  Burgesses.  The  step 
from  the  simple  duties  of  the  local  magistrate  to  that  of  full  legislative 
power  was  a significant  one.  To  Lee  now  came  the  responsibility  of  the 
Virginia  Burgess  for  initiating  laws  and  recommending  them  to  the 
Council. 

During  his  first  term  as  Burgess,  the  assembly  was  in  session  for  a 
brief  period,  from  five  to  six  weeks.  He  was  allowed  the  customary  ex- 
penses for  himself,  one  servant,  two  horses  and  "ferriage.”  A record  in 
the  courthouse  of  Westmoreland  shows  the  payment  of  his  first  salary: 
"To  Thomas  Lee,  Esq.  Burgess  Salary  for  39  days — 4905  lbs.  Tob[acco  J.” 

Lee  was  not  a stranger  in  Williamsburg.  While  he  was  agent  for 
Lady  Fairfax,  he  had  frequently  transacted  business  at  the  Capitol  and 
the  secretary’s  house.  But  it  was  now  a new  experience  to  enter  the  Capi- 
tol as  one  of  the  lawmakers  of  the  Colony  and  to  have  a seat  of  his  own 
in  the  General  Assembly.  At  that  time,  in  the  latter  years  of  Governor 
Spotswood’s  administration,  the  colonial  village  had  not  yet  be- 
come "a  city  corprate.”  Virgin  forest  trees  still  grew  in  its  few  streets 


The  Secretary’s  House,  Williamsburg. 


THE  RECORD  OF  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


35 


and  in  the  pleasant  gardens  around  the  dwelling  houses — little  white 
houses  of  frame  or  brick  with  green  blinds  and  huge  brick  chimneys  and 
dormer  windows  in  their  cedar  shingled  roofs. 

Mary  Johnston  paints  the  early  scene  in  Pioneers  of  the  Old  South , 
quoting  certain  delightful  phrases  of  Hugh  Jones:  "Williamsburg  was 
still  a small  village,  even  though  it  was  the  capital.  Towns  indeed,  in 
any  true  sense,  were  nowhere  to  be  found  in  Virginia.  Yet  Williamsburg 
had  a certain  distinction.  Within  it  there  arose,  beneath  and  between 
old  forest  trees,  the  college,  an  admirable  church — Bruton  Church— 
the  capitol,  the  Governor’s  house  or  palace,  and  many  very  tolerable 
dwelling  houses  of  frame  and  brick.  There  were  also  taverns,  a market- 
place, a bowling  green,  an  arsenal,  and  presently  a playhouse.  The 
capitol  at  Williamsburg  was  a commodious  one,  able  to  house  most 
of  the  machinery  of  state.  Here  were  the  Council  Chamber,  'where  the 
Governor  and  Council  sit  in  very  great  state,  in  imitation  of  the  King 
and  Council,  or  the  Lord  Chancellor  and  House  of  Lords,’  and  the  great 
room  of  the  House  of  Burgesses,  'not  unlike  the  House  of  Commons.’ 
Here,  at  the  capitol  met  the  General  Courts  in  April  and  October,  the 
Governor  and  Council  acting  as  judges.  There  were  also  Oyer  and 
Terminer  and  Admiralty  Courts.  There  were  offices  and  committee 
rooms,  and  on  the  cupola  a great  clock,  and  near  the  capitol  was  'a 
strong,  sweet  Prison  for  Criminals;  and  on  the  other  side  of  an  open 
Court  another  for  Debtors  . . . but  such  Prisoners  are  very  rare,  the 
Creditors  being  generally  very  merciful.  ...  At  the  Capitol,  at  publick 
Times,  may  be  seen  a great  Number  of  handsome,  well-dressed,  corn- 
pleat  Gentlemen.  And  at  the  Governor’s  House  upon  Birth-Nights,  and 
at  Balls  and  Assemblies,  I have  seen  as  fine  an  Appearance,  as  good 
Diversion,  and  as  splendid  Entertainments,  in  Governor  Spotswood’s 
Time,  as  I have  seen  anywhere  else.’  ” 

The  new  Burgess  from  Westmoreland  was  well  acquainted  with  the 
families  of  the  little  colonial  city  and  its  outlying  plantations.  Indeed, 
many  of  them  were  his  kith  and  kin.  The  Ludwell  family  he  must  have 
known  particularly  well,  as  the  friendship  and  political  association  be- 
tween them  was  of  three  generations  standing.  The  Ludwells  were  then 
living  at  Green  Spring  near  Williamsburg  and  their  house  most  prob- 
ably became  a second  home  for  young  Lee. 

Thomas  Lee,  himself,  was  by  this  time  a man  of  some  means  and  influ- 
ence. Perhaps  Beverley  would  have  called  him  an  "Old  Stander”  too. 
The  remuneration  from  his  various  offices  was  enough  to  make  him  quite 


oc 

r\ 


THE  RECORD  OF  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


37 


independent  of  the  income  from  Matholic  Plantation  and  that  of  the 
Clifts.  He  was  ready  to  think  of  marrying  and  founding  a family 
of  his  own. 

Hannah,  second  daughter  of  Philip  Ludwell,  was  then  in  her  nine- 
teenth year.  Perhaps  she  inherited  certain  of  her  mother’s  qualities 
of  manner  and  charm  for  which  "the  Harrison  girls  of  Surry”  were 
celebrated.  In  the  portrait  of  her  mother  bv  Sir  Godfrey  Kneller  there 
is  spirit,  sweetness  and  intelligence. 

Thomas  Lee  was  not  unobservant.  He  had  remarked  to  his  brother 
Henry  that  their  London  cousins  were  pretty  and  doubtless  he  found 
Hannah  Ludwell  so.  They  must  have  met  frequently  at  the  playhouse, 
at  Bruton  Church,  and  at  the  Governor’s  House,  completed  in  that  year, 
where  the  social  life  of  the  Colony  was  beginning  to  center. 

The  social  life  of  colonial  Williamsburg  was  its  pleasantest  phase: 
"The  number  of  its  permanent  population  at  its  most  was  only  a little 
more  than  two  thousand.  But  when  the  courts  and  Council  and  Burgesses 
were  in  session,  the  leading  planters  came  from  all  over  Tidewater  and 
brought  their  families  and  set  up  for  the  ’season.’  Its  houses  and  ordi- 
naries were  full;  its  streets  were  inordinately  active  with  coach,  chariot, 
chaise  and  berlin;  its  church,  theater,  college  and  race-course  were  alive 
with  citizens  and  visitors;  and  there  was  such  social  gaiety  as  for  elegance 
and  sprightliness  was  not  excelled  in  any  other  colony. 

"The  'season’  took  its  cachet  from  the  Royal  Governor’s  entertain- 
ments at  the  Palace.  Chief  of  these,  in  addition  to  dinners  and  courts 
and  receptions  for  distinguished  visitors,  was  the  annual  ball  on  the 
King’s  birthnight.  On  that  night  the  double  row  of  'noble  catalpas,’ 
which  flanked  the  great  'Palace  Green,’  were  hung  with  colored  lanterns. 
Lighted  by  them  the  coaches  full  of  guests  found  their  way  to  the  great 
front  door. 

"Inside  the  Palace  the  mirrors  and  polished  floors  multiplied  the 
tapers  twinkling  in  candlesticks,  sconces  and  chandeliers.  The  eight- 
eenth-century company  was  colorful  in  the  pomp  of  brocade  and  the 
graceful  sweep  of  full  folded  silk  dresses.  Men  and  women  alike  piled 
their  heads  with  curled  and  powdered  wigs.  Jewels  sparkled  on  those 
pinnacles  as  well  as  on  shoe-buckles  and  knee-clasps,  at  the  necks  of  the 
ladies  and  in  the  lace  jabots  of  the  men’s  courtly  costume.  . . . 

"The  theater  was  early  an  active  and  appreciated  feature  of  life  at 
Williamsburg.  Here  midway  the  south  side  of  the  Palace  Green  was 
built  the  first  playhouse  in  the  colonies,  about  1715.  A second  theater 


Hannah  Harrison  (Mrs.  Philip  Ludwell),  grandmother  of  the  Stratford  Lees:  from  the 
original  painting  by  Sir  Godfrey  Knellcr. 


THE  RECORD  OE  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


39 


was  built  near  the  Capitol.  From  a modest,  somewhat  amateur  or  at 
least  local,  beginning  the  Williamsburg  theaters  eventually  drew  the 
leading  companies  which  came  out  from  England  to  act  on  this  side  of 
the  Atlantic.  Thus  throughout  the  century  the  'planter  in  town’  enjoyed 
the  plays  of  Shakespeare,  Beaumont  and  Fletcher,  Jonson,  Congreve, 
Wycherley,  Farquhar  and  other  English  dramatists  until  the  disturbing 
days  of  the  Revolution.” ; 

During  his  first  term  as  Burgess,  Thomas  Lee  evidently  made  his  pro- 
posals of  marriage.  Although  he  had  not  as  yet  his  own  home  to  offer  a 
wife,  Matholic,  on  which  he  had  already  renewed  the  lease,  would  serve 
while  he  was  building  on  his  Clifts  Plantation.  His  marriage  to  Hannah 
Ludwell  took  place  at  Green  Spring  during  the  last  week  of  May,  1722. 
A document  termed  "The  Marriage  Bond  of  Thomas  Lee”  contains  the 
following  provisions: 

Know  all  men  by  these  presents  that  Thomas  Lee  of  Westmoreland  County 
in  Virginia,  Gentleman,  and  Francis  Lightfoot  of  Charles  Citty  County,  Gentle- 
man, doe  owe  and  stand  indebted  to  Philip  Ludwell  of  Greenspring  in  James 
Citty  County  in  Virginia,  Esq.,  in  the  Sum  of  twelve  hundred  pounds  of  Lawfull 
money  of  England  to  the  payment  whereof  well  and  truely  to  be  made  to  the 
said  Philip,  his  Execut’s,  Administrators  or  Certain  Attorney  at  Greenspring 
upon  demand,  we  bind  ourselves  and  either  of  us,  our  and  either  of  our  heirs, 
Execut’s  and  Administrators,  jointly  and  Severally  firmly  by  these  presents  sealed 
with  our  Seals  and  dated  this  twenty  third  day  of  May,  Anno  Domini  one  thou- 
sand seven  hundred  and  Twenty  two. 

The  Condition  of  this  Obligation  is  such  that  whereas  a Marriage  is  intended 
to  be  had  and  Solemnized  betwixt  the  Above  bound  Thomas  Lee  and  Hannah, 
the  Daughter  of  the  above  said  Philip,  with  whome  the  said  Thomas  is  to  have 
and  receive  in  Marriage  six  hundred  pounds  sterling  money  of  England  which 
was  given  to  her  by  Philip  Ludwell  and  Benjamin  Harrison,  Esqrs.  her  grand- 
fathers: now  if  the  said  Marriage  shall  be  had  and  Solemnized  and  the  said  six 
hundred  pounds  sterling  shall  be  paid  to  the  said  Thomas  and  he  shall  depart 
this  life  leaving  the  said  Hannah  Surviving,  then  in  that  Case  if  the  heirs, 
Execut’s  or  Administrators  of  the  said  Thomas  or  one  of  them  shall  pay  and 
deliver  to  the  said  Hannah  upon  Demand  the  Sum  of  six  hundred  pounds  of 
good  and  Lawfull  money  of  England  or  Such  part  of  the  Estate  of  the  said 
Thomas  as  the  Law  appoints  for  Widows  dowers,  which  she  the  said  Hannah 
shall  Choose  which  Choice  shall  be  made  within  one  Month  after  such  decease, 
if  thereunto  required  and  not  sooner,  then  this  obligation  to  be  void  otherwise 
to  remain  in  full  force.  Signed  &c. 

On  the  30th  of  May,  1722,  the  following  receipt  from  Thomas  Lee 
was  given: 

3From  Tidewater  Virginia,  by  Paul  Wilstach.  Copyright  1929.  Used  by  special  permission  of 
the  publishers,  The  Bobbs-Merrill  Company. 


40  STRATFORD  HALL:  THF  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Virg’a  Greenspring  May  ye  30th,  1722.  Received  of  Philip  Ludwell  Esq’r. 
one  set  of  bills  of  Exchange  drawn  by  him  on  Mr.  Micajah  Perry,  merch’t  in 
London  for  Six  hundred  pounds  payable  to  me  which  is  in  full  payment  (when 
paid)  of  one  Legacy  of  one  hundred  pounds  given  by  Benja:  Harrison  Esq’r  to 
Hannah  my  wife  and  also  of  five  hundred  pounds  sterl:  given  to  my  s’d  wife 
by  the  last  will  of  Philip  Ludwell  Esq’r  her  grandfather  and  I do  hereby  Requit 
ye  first  named  Philip  the  father  of  my  wife  from  ye  same  and  every  part  thereof. 

Witness  my  hand  the  day  and  year  above  written. 

This  shows  that  the  marriage  was  solemnized  sometime  between  the 
twenty-third  and  the  thirtieth  of  the  month. 

From  Williamsburg  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee  made  the  long  journey 
to  Matholic.  Whether  they  went  by  horse  or  by  boat  is  not  recorded. 
There  were  no  roads  from  the  colonial  capital  to  the  far  frontier  of 
the  Northern  Neck,  only  trails  through  the  virgin  forest.  There  were 
two  rivers  to  cross  before  they  reached  Cople  Parish  in  the  county  of 
Westmoreland.  By  boat  they  would  have  sailed  down  the  River  James, 
out  into  Chesapeake  Bay.  Veering  north  they  would  have  entered  the 
mouth  of  the  Potomac.  They  would  have  taken  in  sail  on  Lee’s  creek  and 
anchored  at  Matholic  Plantation’s  own  landing.  Whichever  route  thev 
took,  they  passed  by  hundreds  of  acres  patented  by  Thomas  Lee’s  grand- 
father in  Gloucester,  York,  Northumberland  and  Westmoreland  coun- 
ties. 

Matholic  was  "a  large  brick  house  largely  inclosed  by  brick  walls.” 
It  stood  near  Matholic  and  Lee’s  creeks  not  far  from  the  town  now 
known  as  Hague.  Even  then,  at  the  time  of  Thomas  Lee’s  return  with  his 
bride,  it  was  nearly  half  a century  old,  having  been  built  by  Lee’s  father 
when  he  married  Laetitia  Corbin.  Like  William  Fitzhugh’s  plantation, 
Bedford,  it  was  one  of  the  very  few  large  seventeenth  century  houses 
of  the  Northern  Neck. 

Although  Matholic  was  evidently  intended  by  young  Lee  as  a tempo- 
rary dwelling  place  while  his  own  home,  Stratford  Hall,  on  the  Clifts 
Plantation  was  being  built,  he  remained  there  for  seven  years.  In  that 
period,  before  they  moved  to  Stratford,  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee  be- 
came the  parents  of  four  children:  Richard,  born  June  17,  1723;  Philip 
Ludwell,  born  February  24,  1726;  Hannah  Ludwell,  born  February 
6,  1728;  and  John,  born  March  28,  1729. 

The  Potomac  side  of  Westmoreland  was  always  Thomas  Lee’s  home. 
He  is  frequently  spoken  of  in  court  records  as  "Thomas  Lee  of  Po- 
tomac.” As  already  noted  he  held  three  remunerative  positions  in  the 
Northern  Neck  before  the  year  1716.  Throughout  almost  every  year 


THE  RECORD  OF  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


41 


from  1711  to  1749  there  is  some  mention  of  him  in  the  records  of  West- 
moreland Courthouse.  Through  them  the  records  of  Thomas  Lee’s  own 
service  are  made  clear,  and  an  interesting  picture  is  drawn  of  the  duties, 
difficulties  and  frequent  dangers  encountered  by  a countv  magistrate  in 
colonial  Virginia. 

Here  is  an  instance  in  1725,  when  one  Samuel  Stroud,  "Master  of  the 
Sloop  Content,”  tries  to  smuggle  "Skins  and  furrs”  from  the  Potomac 
region.  Lee  promptly  brings  suit  against  him,  as  recorded  on  page  123 
of  the  Court  Orders  [1721-1731]:  "Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  who  as  well  for  and 
in  the  behalf  of  our  Sovereign  Lord  the  King  as  himself  brought  Suit  at 
May  Court  1725  against  Samuel  Stroud,  mariner,  Master  of  the  Sloop 
Content  of  Boston  in  new  England  and  declared  against  him  for  taking 
on  board  the  Said  Sloop,  Sundry  and  divor  hides,  Skins  and  furrs  to 
Export  hence  without  paying  the  duties  by  Law  assest  on  the  said  com- 
modities etc.”  There  also  appears  to  have  been  considerable  difficulty 
in  the  matter  of  collecting  duties  on  "Liquors  in  South  Potomac.”  Lee 
asks  for  and  receives  a commission  empowering  him  to  receive  the  rates, 
duties,  etc.,  on  such  commodities. 

On  July  26,  1726,  a record  on  page  125  shows  he  was  called  upon  to 
produce  this  commission  in  court.  On  June  1,  1727,  he  is  made  one 
of  the  trustees  and  guardians  of  the  orphans  of  William  Fitzhugh. 
William  Fitzhugh  of  Eagle’s  Nest  was  the  first  husband  of  Lee’s  only 
sister,  Ann.  Another  expression  of  trust  in  him  comes  when  George 
Randall,  merchant  of  Great  Britain,  declares:  "I  the  said  George  Randall, 
Senr  Have  constituted  in  my  stead  & in  my  place  my  trusty  & well 
beloved  friend  Thomas  Lee  of  the  place  commonly  called  Potomac  in 
Virginia,  Esq.  to  be  my  true  & Lawfull  Attorney  for  me  &c.” 

Other  records  showing  quite  a different  attitude  to  Lee  also  appear 
when  "three  Sailors,  John  Fletcher,  Ambrose  Forward  and  Isaac  Chap- 
man, belonging  to  the  Ship  Elizabeth  of  London  are  brought  to  the 
bar  and  several  depositions  being  read  against  them  of  vile  and  Illegal 
behavior  and  threating  Colo.  Thos.  Lee  whereupon  the  Court  do  order 
the  said  John,  Ambrose  and  Isaac  to  be  taken  into  Custody  and  com- 
mitted to  Goal  until  further  proceedings  which  is  to  be  had  concerning 
the  said  facts.”  This  was  on  February  26,  1728.  On  March  4 these  three 
sailors  with  two  others  from  the  same  ship  are  bound  over  "to  keep  the 
peace  for  threating  the  life  of  Colo.  Thos.  Lee.” 

Lee,  evidently  unconcerned,  goes  calmly  on  his  way  as  "Gentleman 
Justice.”  His  second  term  at  the  General  Assembly  in  Williamsburg 


42  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

approaches  and  on  October  30,  1728,  is  recorded:  "To  Colo.  Thos.  Lee 
for  46  Days  attendance  on  ye  General  Assembly  as  burgess  for  this 
County,  Going,  returning  and  ferriage  etc.  6,772  lbs.  Tob[acco].” 

The  legal  process  through  which  it  was  necessary  for  the  freeholder 
to  order  his  slightest  move  where  the  public  was  in  any  way  concerned 
is  shown  in  a record  of  March  28,  1729.  The  house  later  known  as 
Mt.  Pleasant  is  being  built  by  Thomas  Lee  on  Matholic  ground,  prob- 
ably for  his  London  cousin,  George  Lee:  "On  motion  of  Colo.  Thos. 
Lee  to  be  admitted  to  Turn  the  road  Leading  from  the  Crossroads  at 
ye  white  oak  down  to  his  plantation,  he  designing  to  build  a Dwelling 
house  on  the  Top  of  the  hill  near  where  the  road  now  passes.  It  is  there- 
fore directed  by  the  Court  that  Robert  Carter,  Jun.  Esq.  and  Jeremiah 
Rust  Gent,  (when  Desired  by  the  said  Lee)  view  and  Inspect  the  place 
proposed  for  Turning  the  said  road  and  on  their  approbation  of  the 
Same  the  said  Colo.  Thos.  Lee  to  have  Liberty  to  Alter  the  Road  Ac- 
cordingly and  Clear  a new  way  according  to  Law.”  The  following  year 
Lee  is  again  at  the  Capitol  in  Williamsburg  according  to  the  record: 
"To  Colo.  Thos.  Lee  for  his  Burgesses  Sallery  the  time  being  44  days 
and  8 Days  for  going  and  Returning  @130  pounds  of  Tob[acco].  a 
Day  with  ferriges  130  In  all,  6,970  lbs.  Toba[cco].” 

That  his  service  as  Burgess  impressed  others  beside  Lee’s  constituents 
and  that  he  was  personally  popular  in  Williamsburg  is  evident  from  the 
signal  honor  conferred  upon  him  in  1732  when  he  was  appointed  to 
the  Council  by  his  Majesty  King  George  the  Second.  This  position, 
given  by  the  Crown  on  recommendation  of  the  Privy  Council,  was  for 
life.  It  was  the  highest  in  point  of  authority  and  prestige  of  any  officer 
in  the  colonial  government,  except  that  of  governor  and  lieutenant  gov- 
ernor. Three  qualifications  were  essential:  education,  wealth,  proven 
executive  ability.  A Councillor  of  State,  as  the  office  was  termed, 
exercised  executive  functions  with  the  governor,  as  a member  of  its 
second  and  highest  legislative  body.  Thus  Thomas  Lee  was  not  only  a 
judge  in  the  highest  colonial  court,  but  also  through  his  voice  and  vote 
as  a Councillor  were  the  laws  of  Virginia  made.  Submitted  to  the  Coun- 
cil from  the  House  of  Burgesses,  a measure  became  law,  or  not,  as  the 
Councillors  decreed.  If  passed  by  them,  it  went  to  the  governor,  as  a 
matter  of  form,  for  his  signature.  The  law  was  then  sent  to  England 
by  the  Governor,  also  as  a formality,  to  be  examined  and  approved 
by  the  Privy  Council.  As  Beverley  expressed  it:  "The  Laws  having  duly 
past  the  House  of  Burgesses,  the  Council,  and  the  Governor’s  Assent; 


THE  RECORD  OF  A YOUNG  COLONIAL 


43 


they  are  transmitted  to  the  King  by  the  next  Shipping,  for  his  Approba- 
tion, his  Majesty  having  another  negative  Voice.  But  thev  immediately 
become  Laws,  and  are  in  Force  upon  the  Governor’s  first  passing  them, 
and  so  remain,  if  his  Majesty  don’t  actually  repeal  them,  although  he  be 
not  pleased  to  declare  his  Royal  Assent,  one  way  or  other. 

"There  are  no  appointed  times  for  their  Convention;  but  thev  are 
call’d  together,  whenever  the  Exigencies  of  the  Country  make  it  neces- 
sary, or  his  Majesty  is  pleas’d  to  order  any  thing  to  be  proposed  to 
them.’’ 

For  seventeen  years,  from  1732  to  the  day  of  his  death  in  1750,  Thomas 
Lee  was  to  hold  this  position  of  Councillor  of  State  and  Judge  of  the 
Supreme  Court  of  Virginia,  even  after  he  became  its  governor.  How 
he  used  this  added  power  and  authority  for  the  interests  of  the  British 
Empire  in  North  America,  is  told  in  the  record  of  those  years — a record 
of  service  that  has  never  been  fully  revealed  until  the  present  day.  It 
establishes  Thomas  Lee  of  Stratford  Hall  as  one  of  the  great  colonials. 


Stratford  Hall  stands  on  a broad  plateau  protected  on  the  river  side  by  natural  fortifications.  Sketch  by  Morley  j.  Williams. 


CHAPTER  III:  THE  BUILDING  OF  THE  GREAT  HOUSE 


1 

WHEN  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee  chose  the  site  for  their  Great 
House  on  the  Clifts  Plantation,  they  selected  a spot  far  inland, 
at  least  a mile  or  more  back  from  the  waterfront.  In  the  early 
1720’s  many  dangers  beset  the  Potomac  planter  whose  home  was  too 
close  to  the  river.  He  would  always  be  apprehensive  of  Indian  attack, 
pirate  raid,  or  injury  to  property  or  person  from  roaming  bands  of  sail- 
ors or  convicts.  The  point  selected  for  Stratford  Hall  was  curiously 
fortified  by  nature.  To  reach  from  the  river  the  plateau  on  which  the 
house  was  to  stand,  it  was  necessary  to  climb  the  steep  cliffs  at  the 
water’s  edge  and  traverse  a tract  of  wild  land,  thickly  wooded  and 
furrowed  bv  deep  ravines.  No  fort  could  have  been  more  secure  from 
river  assault. 

Doubtless  there  were  other  reasons  that  led  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee 
to  build  away  from  the  river.  Among  the  families  living  on  the  shore, 
there  was  constant  illness,  caused,  it  was  thought,  by  the  river  damp  and 
chill.  Then  too,  there  was  another  menace  from  the  river,  one  far  more 
certain  than  Indian  attack  or  pirate  raid.  For  this  went  on  imperceptibly, 
night  and  day — the  never-ending  erosion  of  the  shores.  The  great  tidal 
river,  the  cherished  highway,  the  connecting  link  with  civilization,  was 
at  the  same  time  a formidable  enemy.  With  his  intimate  knowledge  of 
the  Potomac  coast  line,  Thomas  Lee  doubtless  realized  the  destructive 
effect  of  wave  action  upon  the  Stratford  shores.  In  times  of  storm  great 
masses  of  earth  and  giant  trees  were  sometimes  swallowed  by  the  river. 
It  may  even  have  been  that  the  original  Pope  "manner  house”  and  its 
"messuages”  had  been  undermined  by  the  waters  or  was  being  threat- 
ened with  ruin. 

In  any  event  Stratford  Hall  was  built  not  on  the  cliffs  but  on  this  broad 
plateau  protected  by  natural  fortifications  on  the  north  or  river  side.  At 
the  foot  of  the  plateau  itself  the  deep,  shadowed  ravine  was  "streaming 
with  sweete  Springs,  like  veynes  in  a naturall  bodie.”  Precisely  when 
this  commanding  site  on  the  plateau  was  chosen  and  the  first  building 
begun,  is  unknown.  It  must  have  followed  closely  after  the  survey  of  the 
estate  was  made  under  Lee’s  direction  in  1721.  Since  this  survey  marks  the 
first  step  in  the  actual  development  of  the  Stratford  property,  the  record 
of  March  29,  1721,  is  significant:  "...  and  this  Deponent  [Humphrey 
Pope]  further  saith  that  in  the  year  1721  as  well  as  he  can  remember  he 
was  present  at  a survey  made  by  Mr.  Thomas  Newton,  dec’d  of  the 

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THE  BUILDING  OF  THE  GREAT  HOUSE 


47 


aforesaid  Patent  for  the  said  Thomas  Lee  and  this  Deponent  then  shewed 
the  said  Newton  the  stump  of  the  aforesaid  black  walnut  tree  which  had 
been  cut  down  some  years  before.  ...” 

The  next  available  record  is  of  the  year  1725,  when  Thomas  Lee  agreed 
to  give  an  indentured  servant  his  freedom  in  return  for  certain  work  in 
Lee’s  "quarter  at  the  river-side.”  While  neither  the  Clifts  nor  Stratford 
is  mentioned,  this  record  from  the  book  of  deeds  and  wills,  1658-1828, 
of  the  Westmoreland  court  records,  may  prove  to  refer  both  to  construc- 
tion work  at  Stratford  and  to  repairs  of  old  outbuildings  on  the  cliffs: 

Agreement  between  Thomas  Lee  and  William  Bills,  bricklayer  his  the  sd. 
Lee’s  servant  by  Indenture:  First  the  said  William  Bill  in  consideration  of  his 
freedom  from  his  said  master  does  hereby  discharge  his  sd.  master  from  all 
wages  that  is  or  may  hereafter  be  due  to  him  from  the  said  master  by  his 
Indenture  or  otherways  whatsoever  and  obledges  himself  when  required  by  the 
said  Lee  his  now  master  to  come  and  finish  one  ceiling  of  a room  in  the  said 
Lee’s  house  workmanlike  and  what  other  bricklayer’s  or  plaisterers  work  there 
is  to  doe  to  the  said  Lee’s  house  or  out  houses  and  repair  two  chimneys  of  brick 
at  the  said  Lee’s  quarter  at  the  river  side.  Westd- — At  a Court  held  for  the  said 
County  the  24th  day  of  Nov.,  1725,  Thomas  (Wm.)  Bill  within  named  per- 
sonally acknowledged  the  within  agreement  (in  open  Court)  to  be  just  and 
what  he  had  voluntarily  consented  and  agreed  to  which  was  approved  of  by  the 
Court  and  at  the  instance  of  Thomas  Lee,  Esq.  admitted  to  record  and  was 
entered  thereon  the  7th  day  of  Dec.,  1725 — Thomas  Sorrell,  Clk. 

Occupied  though  Thomas  Lee  was  with  the  duties  and  responsibilities 
of  his  several  offices,  the  farming  of  his  own  plantations,  and  the  cares 
and  interests  of  a growing  family,  it  is  evident  from  the  existing  build- 
ing and  from  the  traces  of  old  vistas,  of  garden  walls  and  terraces,  that 
he  gave  much  concern  to  the  design  of  the  setting  of  his  home  as  well  as 
to  the  construction  of  the  buildings.  It  was  an  arduous  task  to  supervise 
the  manufacture  and  assembling  of  materials.  It  appears  to  be  certain 
that  bricks  for  Stratford’s  mansion  house  and  flanking  outbuildings 
were  made  locally  from  local  clays;  lime  for  the  plaster  burned  from 
Potomac  oyster  shells;  stones  for  the  mill  foundations  quarried  near  by; 
lumber  for  carvings  and  structural  timbers  alike  cut  from  Tidewater 
trees.  Stone  work  for  the  house,  grinding  stones  for  the  grist  mills,  big 
saws  for  the  mills,  many  tools  and  utensils  of  iron  or  steel,  glass  and 
hardware  were  imported  from  England.  Then  too,  all  had  to  be  directed 
bv  a busy  man  at  Matholic,  nearly  twenty  miles  away,  or  at  Williams- 
burg, four  davs  across  the  country.  It  is  not  surprising  that  the  construc- 
tion required  from  eight  to  ten  years. 

The  plan  for  the  Great  House  and  the  grounds  was  a grand  concep- 


O 


THE  BUILDING  OF  THE  GREAT  HOUSE 


49 


tion — unusual  for  the  period  and  unlike  any  other  design  in  the  Ameri- 
can colonies.  Suggestive  of  the  imposing  estate  of  Ashdown  House,  seat 
of  the  Earl  of  Craven  in  Berks,  England,  the  basic  idea  appears  to  have 
been  a mammoth  cross  making  four  long  vistas:  north,  a mile  toward 
the  Potomac;  south,  a mile  or  more  toward  the  King’s  Highway;  east, 
far  over  the  enclosed  gardens  through  the  fields  on  the  plateau,  to  the 
deep  forest;  and  west,  to  more  virgin  forest  beyond  the  dark  wooded 
ravine  skirted  by  the  cliff  road  to  the  river. 

During  the  early  eighteenth  century  period  in  Virginia,  according  to 
Mary  Stanard,  "the  most  common  form  of  mansion,  whether  of  brick  or 
wood,  on  a large  plantation  was  the  square  building,  two  stories  high 
with  or  without  an  attic,  and  with  a wide  hall — often  called  the  great 
hall — four  spacious  rooms  on  each  floor,  and  four  chimneys.  It  was 
sometimes  flanked  by  wings  and  sometimes  by  detached  out-buildings 
used  for  office,  school-house,  laundry  and  kitchen.  These,  with  stable, 
carriage  house  and — a little  farther  away,  wholly  or  in  part  hidden  bv 
trees — the  negro  quarters,  consisting  of  log  cabins  set  in  rows  or  scat- 
tered about,  gave  the  place  the  appearance  of  a small  village.’’ 

While  bearing  a certain  resemblance  to  these  typical  plantation  man- 
sions, the  plan  of  Stratford  Hall  was  quite  different  from  other  Virginia 
homes.  The  main  house  itself — a noble  mansion — is  an  H -shaped  struc- 
ture of  brick  in  which  the  cross-bar  is  formed  by  a great  central  hall — 
mediaeval  in  suggestion  and  many  times  larger  than  the  hall  of  the  larg- 
est contemporary  house.  This  Great  Hall,  thirty  by  thirty  feet  in  dimen- 
sions, connects  two  massive  wings,  thirty  feet  wide  by  sixty  feet  deep, 
in  each  of  which  are  grouped  four  huge  chimney  stacks,  forming  high 
towers.  The  plan  of  the  entire  group  of  buildings  is  a quadrangle  di- 
rectly in  the  center  of  what  was  once  the  vast  cross  of  vistas.  The  main 
house,  consisting  of  a main  story  and  attic  above  a high  basement,  is  of 
immense  proportions,  with  brick  walls  two  and  one-half  feet  thick. 

In  each  detail,  large  and  small,  the  H -shape  of  the  central  mansion 
is  followed.  Instead  of  being  flanked  by  the  usual  two  outbuildings,  or 
dependencies,  in  line  formation,  Stratford  has  four.  Each  of  these  de- 
pendencies— the  Kitchen,  the  Law  Office,  the  Counting  Office,  and  what 
was  probably  the  Schoolhouse — is  in  itself  a considerable  building,  one 
and  a half  stories  in  height,  with  great  chimneys.  Each  stands  about 
twenty-eight  feet  from  the  nearest  corner  of  the  house  and  directly  in 
line  with  it.  Other  outbuildings,  the  Orangery,  the  Summer  houses,  the 
Meat  house,  the  Weaving  sheds,  the  Servant  and  Slave  quarters,  were 


Comparative  plans,  showing  similarity  of  dimensions  and  foundation  plan  between  Strat- 
ford Hall  and  the  Capitol  at  Williamsburg. 


located  near  the  mansion.  The  Springhouse  Thomas  Lee  built  at  the 
foot  of  the  plateau  where  the  Great  House  stood,  in  the  very  midst  of 
the  "vale  of  crystal  springs.” 

The  H-shape  was  common  in  Tudor  England,  and  possibly  Thomas 
Lee  had  seen  a number  of  such  houses  during  his  visit  there  in  1716. 
There  were  several  in  the  counties  of  Essex,  Bucks,  Hampshire,  Shrop- 
shire, Wiltshire,  and  Berks.  Upton  House  (known  in  1780  as  Ham 
House)  was  among  them.  Also  designed  in  the  H-form  were  numerous 
public  buildings  in  England,  which  Lee  may  have  seen.  In  Stephen 
Primatt’s  Handbook  of  Architecture  (a  publication  available  to  Thomas 
Lee)  it  is  illustrated  as  a house  plan.  Nearer  at  hand,  one  of  the  Ran- 
dolph homes  in  Virginia,  Tuckahoe  is  a frame  structure  of  the  H design. 
But  it  would  seem  that  there  was  no  brick  building  of  H-shape  in  the 
Colony  when  Stratford  was  planned  except  the  Capitol  at  Williamsburg. 
The  "fair  brick  capitol,”  the  public  building  Thomas  Lee  knew  best, 
was  undoubtedly  his  model  for  the  plan  of  the  house.  This  is  evident 
not  only  from  its  H-shape  but  also  from  an  exact  similarity  of  dimen- 
sions between  the  buildings.1  Stratford’s  walls,  like  those  of  the  Capitol, 
are  of  fort-like  thickness.  The  Queen  Anne  stiffness  and  prim  formality 
of  the  Capitol  are  relieved  in  Stratford  by  the  architectural  balance  of 
the  four  dependencies.  Certain  features  of  the  Secretary’s  house  at  Wil- 
liamsburg seem  also  to  be  reproduced  in  Stratford  brickwork,  doorways, 
and  pediments. 

From  the  Castle  at  Green  Spring  other  architectural  influences  seem 
to  be  derived.  The  great  central  hall  of  that  old  house,  with  windows 
flanking  the  entrances,  the  first  of  its  type  in  the  colonies  or  even  among 


'According  to  measurements  made  by  Thomas  Tileston  Waterman. 
[50] 


Landscape  design  for  Stratford  by  Morley  J.  Williams. 


52  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

English  houses,  marked  the  transition  from  the  mediaeval  form  of  hall. 
This  feature  of  the  Castle  was  adapted  to  Stratford’s  plan,  together  with 
its  type  of  flat-arched  basement  window  and  the  high  stoop  of  the  main 
entrance. 

It  is  a curious  and  interesting  circumstance  that  from  the  three  build- 
ings in  Virginia  known  most  intimately  to  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee 
apparently  came  the  principal  architectural  features  of  their  stately 
house.  So  within  the  fabric  designed  for  their  home  were  thus  woven 
patterns  of  the  buildings  which  they  must  have  loved. 

The  physical  unity  of  Stratford’s  architectural  plan — mansion  and  out- 
buildings, gardens  and  enclosing  walls,  roads  of  approach,  and  river 
landings — was  evidence  and  symbol  too  of  its  working  unity,  with  mas- 
ter, servants  and  slaves,  work  animals,  fields,  forests,  and  streams,  quar- 
ters, shops,  and  mansion  house  constituting  an  isolated  social  and  eco- 
nomic unit,  self-operative,  centripetal. 

Like  all  colonials  in  Virginia,  Thomas  Lee  cherished  English  ties  and 
associations,  English  names,  traditions,  manners,  customs,  even  English 
trees,  plants,  and  fruits — all  that  was  of  England.  Throughout  his  whole 
life  he  loved  and  served  the  mother  country.  This  feeling  is  so  wrought 
into  Stratford  that  it  takes  possession  of  one’s  every  sense.  For  plain, 
homely,  robust  as  the  house  is,  it  has  simplicity  and  dignity  and  the 
rhythm  of  magnificent  proportions. 

From  the  circumstantial  evidence  available,  Stratford  Hall  was  prob- 
ably started  about  1721-22,  and  the  house  was  ready  for  occupancy  by 
1729-30.  The  Lees  probably  moved  there  in  the  early  fall  of  1729,  some 
months  after  the  burning  of  Matholic.  In  the  court  records  already 
quoted  are  references  to  threats  of  murder  and  arson  made  against 
Thomas  Lee,  by  persons  whom  he  punished  for  their  transgressions  of 
the  law.  During  1728  and  1729  another  band  of  outlaws,  including 
some  indentured  servants,  were  committing  depredations  in  Westmore- 
land County.  When  complaint  was  brought  to  Lee,  as  justice  of  the 
peace,  he  issued  a warrant  to  apprehend  the  thieves  and  so  aroused  their 
animosity. 

Through  the  Lee  servants,  the  outlaws  learned  that  in  a room  at 
Matholic,  known  as  "the  Cherry  Tree  Room,”  were  kept  the  Lee  family 
plate,  jewelry,  and  other  articles  of  value.  These  men  broke  into  Matholic 
on  January  29,  1729,  in  the  dead  of  night,  found  their  way  to  the 
Cherry  Tree  Room,  rifled  it,  and  set  fire  to  the  house.2  The  interior  wood- 

2Through  a discovery  of  original  documents  made  by  Mr.  E.  Carter  Delano,  deputy  clerk  of 
the  Circuit  Court,  Richmond  County,  the  complete  record  is  available  of  the  trial  and  conviction 
of  the  persons  guilty  of  this  crime. 


Top:  A section  of  the  panelling  in  the  Great  Hall. 

Bottom:  Original  hardware,  brass  locks,  and  H-hinges  made  in  England. 


54  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

work  was  old  and  dry,  and  almost  instantly  the  house  became  a mass  of 
flames.  Hannah  Lee,  pregnant  at  the  time  with  her  fourth  child,  escaped 
death  only  by  being  thrown  from  her  chamber  window  on  the  second 
floor.  The  child,  a son,  was  born  a few  weeks  later,  and  died  on  the  dav 
of  his  birth. 

The  Maryland  Gazette  of  February  4,  1729,  reported  the  fire: 

Last  Wednesday  night  Col.  Thomas  Lee’s  fine  house  in  Virginia  was  burnt, 
his  office,  barns  and  outhouses,  his  plate,  cash  to  the  sum  of  ten  thousand  lbs. 
papers  and  everything  entirely  lost. 

His  lady  and  child  were  forced  to  be  thrown  out  of  a window  and  he  himself 
hardly  escaped  the  flames,  being  much  scorched.  A white  girl  of  about  twelve 
years  old  (a  servant)  perished  in  the  fire. 

It  is  said  that  Col.  Lee’s  loss  is  not  less  than  £50,000. 

In  its  March  4th  issue  the  same  paper  had  the  following  advertise- 
ment: 

Stolen  out  of  the  House  of  Col.  THOMAS  LEE,  in  Virginia,  sometime  before 
it  was  burnt,  a considerable  quantity  of  valuable  Plate,  viz.  Two  Candle 
[Caudle]  Cups,  three  Pints  each.  One  Chocolate-Pot,  One  Coffee-Pot,  One 
Tea-Pot.  Three  Castors,  Four  Salts,  A Plate  with  the  Cortius  Arms.  A Pint 
Tumbler  Ditto  Arms.  Four  Candlesticks,  One  or  two  Pint  cans.  A funel  for 
Quart  Bottles,  no  Arms  on  it.  A Pair  of  Snuffers  and  Stand,  etc. 

This  Plate  has  on  it  the  Coat  of  Arms  or  Crest,  belonging  to  the  Name  of  Lee, 
viz.  TESS  CHEQUE,  between  eight  Billets,  Four  and  Four.  The  Crest  is  a 
Squirrel  sitting  upon  and  eating  an  Acorn  off  the  Branch  of  a Tree  proper. 

N.  B.  The  Governour  of  Virginia,  has  publish’d  a Reward  of  50  Pounds,  and 
a Pardon  to  any  one  of  the  Accomplices  who  will  discover  the  rest  (except  the 
Person  who  set  Fire  to  the  House.) 

The  date  of  the  fire,  January  29,  1729,  is  confirmed  through  a court 
record,  Thomas  Lee’s  deposition  in  reference  to  the  will  of  William 
Chanler  on  file  in  the  Westmoreland  Courthouse.  This  will,  accord- 
ing to  Lee’s  deposition,  he  had  placed  in  his  "scrutore”  which,  with 
everything  else  in  the  house,  was  burned.  Nothing  remained  of  the 
great  old  house  of  Matholic  but  scarred  and  blackened  foundations. 
Today,  the  site  alone  is  left;  and  after  two  hundred  years,  it  still  retains 
the  name  then  given  it,  "Burnt  House  Fields.”  The  greater  portion  of 
Richard  Lee’s  celebrated  library  also  was  destroyed.  Certain  of  the  Lee 
family  portraits  escaped  the  flames.  These  may  have  been  the  family  por- 
traits referred  to  in  an  inventory  of  furnishings  at  Lee  Hall,  the  estate 
adjoining  Matholic,  occupied  by  Thomas  Lee’s  brother  Henry  and  Mary 
(Bland)  Lee.  Or  they  may  have  been  removed  to  Stratford  before  Janu- 
ary of  1729.  According  to  a theory  in  the  Lee  family,  various  household 
furnishings  were  taken  to  Stratford  from  time  to  time.  The  move,  hav- 


THE  BUILDING  OF  THE  GREAT  HOUSE 


55 

in g been  long  in  contemplation,  was  probably  a gradual  process.  This 
might  readily  account  for  the  survival  of  the  family  portraits  and  a few 
of  Richard  Lee’s  books. 

For  a few  months  after  the  fire  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee  undoubtedly 
stayed  with  their  relatives  at  Lee  Hall.  Hannah  would  have  been  in  too 
weak  a condition  to  move.  Furthermore,  Thomas  Lee  was  overseeing  the 
building  of  a house  on  Matholic  lands  for  his  nephew  George.  From  this 
time,  Matholic  was  called  by  the  name  of  the  new  house,  Mount  Pleas- 
ant.3 

That  Thomas  Lee  had  removed  from  this  locality  before  1730  is  shown 
by  several  records  in  the  Order  Book  of  Westmoreland  County  (1721- 
31).  On  May  29,  1729,  there  is  mention  of  an  order  for  a "highway  to 
the  white  oake  by  Capt.  Henry  Lee’s.”  Captain  Henry  Lee  lived  at  Lee 
Hall,  the  adjoining  plantation  to  Colonel  Thomas  Lee  and  "right  at  the 
cross  roads.at  ye  white  oake.”  The  change  in  the  road  order  from  Colonel 
Thomas  to  Captain  Henry  would  suggest  that  Colonel  Thomas  Lee  bv 
May  29,  1729,  had  vacated  that  immediate  section. 

While  the  fire  was  such  a disaster  to  Lee  and  his  family,  it  was  not 
wholly  a loss.  According  to  his  kinsman,  Richard  Corbin,  Lee  petitioned 
the  governor  and  Council  for  assistance  and  received  a favorable  re- 
sponse. Governor  Gooch  wrote  to  the  Lords  of  Trade  and  Plantations 
on  March  26,  1729: 

Nor,  My  Lords,  are  these  all  our  Fears,  the  secret  Robberies  and  other  vil- 
lanous  attempte  of  a more  pernicious  Crew  of  Transported  Felons  — Mr. 
Thomas  Lee,  which  in  the  night  time  were  sett  on  fire  by  these  Villains  and 
in  an  instant  burnt  to  the  ground,  a young  White  Woman  burnt  in  her  bed. 
The  Gentleman  and  his  Wife  and  three  children  very  providently  getting  out 
of  a Window,  with  nothing  but  their  Shifts  and  Shirts  on  their  backs,  which 
was  all  they  saved,  not  two  minutes  before  the  house  fell  in,  and  this  was  done 
by  those  Rogues  because  as  a Justice  of  the  Peace,  upon  complaint  made  to 
him,  he  had  granted  a warrant  for  apprehending  of  some  of  them.  They  are 
not  yet  discovered. 

In  consideration  of  this  Gentleman’s  misfortune,  which  he  is  not  well  able 
to  bear  and  as  it  arises  from  the  discharge  of  his  duty  as  a Magistrate,  I have 
been  prevailed  upon  to  intercede  with  your  Lordships  that  his  Case  may  be 
recommended  to  his  Majesty,  for  his  Royal  Bounty  of  two  or  three  hundred 
Pounds  towards  lessening  his  loss,  which  was  the  more  considerable  by  a very 
good  Collection  of  Books.4 

Abstracts  from  the  series  of  letters  that  followed,  while  containing  a 
repetition  of  the  events  of  the  fire,  are  of  historic  interest: 


“See  Supplementary  Records,  IV  : Records  of  Mount  Pleasant. 

JVa.  B.  T.  Vol.  38,  pp.  30-31.  Also  London  ref.  C.  O.  5 vol.  1336  page  30. 


An  original  lock , showing  British  trade-mark. 


THE  BUILDING  OF  THE  GREAT  HOUSE 


57 

1729,  June  4,  Whitehall. 

Lords  of  Trade  to  Lords  of  the  Treasury-lnclose  extract  of  letter  from  Lieut. 
Gov.  Gooch  giving  a account  of  a barbarous  outrage  by  a crew  of  transported 
felons  on  a gentleman  of  Virginia  for  having  done  his  duty  as  a justice  of  the 
peace — Think  it  proper  as  the  case  is  very  deplorable  that  it  should  be  laid 
before  her  Maj.  for  her  consideration. 

1729,  March  26,  Virginia. 

Lieut.  Gov.  Gooch  to  Lords  of  Trade. — The  secret  robberies  and  other  vil- 
lanous  attempts  of  a more  pernicious  Crew  of  transported  felons  yet  more 
intolerable — Describes  how  these  villains  in  the  night  set  fire  to  Mr.  Thomas 
Lee’s  house  which  was  burnt  to  the  ground,  a young  white  woman  burnt  in 
her  bed  & Mr.  Lee,  his  wife  and  three  children  only  escaping  out  of  the  window 
with  nothing  but  their  shirts  on,  not  two  minutes  before  the  house  fell  in. — And 
this  because  as  a Justice  of  the  Peace,  Mr.  Lee  had  granted  a warrant  for 
apprehending  some  of  them — recommends  his  case  to  his  Maj.  Bounty  of  2 or 
300  £ towards  lessening  his  loss.5 

1729,  June  20,  Whitehall. 

Lords  of  Trade  to  Lieut  Gov.  Gooch — . . . Have  enclosed  extract  of  his 
letter  which  relates  to  the  houses  of  Mr.  Lee  having  been  burnt  by  some  trans- 
ported felons  to  the  treasury  and  hope  his  Maj.  will  extend  his  bounty  to  a 
person  who  has  suffered  for  having  discharged  his  duty — the  Lt.  Gov.  will  do 
well  to  use  his  utmost  endeavors  to  find  out  and  prosecute  the  persons  concerned 
in  this  villianous  action  with  the  utmost  severity  of  the  law.  . . . 

1730,  April  9th,  Williamsburgh. 

Lieut.  Gov.  Gooch  to  Lords  of  Trade — Has  received  Treasury  Warrants  for 
£1,000  for  defraying  the  expenses  of  running  the  (Boundary)  Line — and  for 
£ his  Majs- Bounty  to  Mr.  Lee.  . . .8 

This  bounty  was  ordered  by  Her  Majesty,  Queen  Caroline,  who  was 
acting  as  regent  in  1729.  According  to  family  tradition,  it  was  used  to 
complete  Stratford. 

By  the  close  of  1729,  the  Lee  family  must  have  been  comfortably 
settled  in  their  new  home.  On  December  13,  1730,  the  birth  of  another 
son,  Thomas  Ludwell  Lee,  is  recorded.  Stratford  is  not  mentioned  as 
the  place  of  his  birth,  but  neither  is  Matholic  named  as  the  birthplace 
of  the  four  older  children. 

The  year  1732  was  an  auspicious  one  for  the  family  at  Stratford, 
marked  as  it  was  by  the  appointment  of  Thomas  Lee  to  the  Council.  The 
Stratford  estate  was  increased  at  this  time  through  Lee’s  purchase  of  an 
additional  2,400  acres  including  another  long  stretch  of  river  frontage. 

In  this  year  too,  on  January  20,  was  born  the  fifth  son,  Richard  Henry 
Lee. 


6Va.  Manuscripts  From  Sainsbury  1720-1730 — Vol.  9.  From  British  Record  Office. 
°Va.  B.  T.  Vol.  IS.  R.  151  C.  O.  1322  p.  277. 


58  STRATFORD  HALL : THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Barely  three  weeks  after  his  birth  (recorded  by  his  grandson,  Richard 
Henry  Lee,  as  having  taken  place  at  Stratford) , a similar  event  occurred 
at  Bridges’  Creek  in  the  home  of  Lee’s  friend  and  neighbor,  when 
"George  Washington  Son  to  Augustine  & Mary  his  Wife  was  Born  ye 
11th  Day  of  February  1731/2  about  10  in  the  Morning  & was  Baptiz’d 
on  the  3:th  of  April  following.  Mr.  Beverley  Whiting  & Capt.  Chris- 
topher Brooks  Godfathers  and  Mrs.  Mildred  Gregory  Godmother.” 
Throughout  their  lives  these  two,  George  Washington  and  Richard 
Henry  Lee,  born  on  almost  the  same  day  and  on  neighboring  planta- 
tions, were  to  be  united  in  their  patriot  services  for  the  future  republic. 

Thomas  Lee’s  appointment  to  the  Council  in  this  same  year  also 
meant  more  frequent  visits  and  a closer  association  with  Williamsburg 
for  his  family.  His  younger  daughter  Alice  was  fond  of  describing  to  her 
children  and  grandchildren  the  "splendour”  in  which  her  father  lived 
at  Williamsburg,  where  they  must  have  occupied  the  Castle  at  Green 
Spring.7 

2 

Despite  his  heavy  duties  at  Williamsburg,  Thomas  Lee  spent  much 
more  of  his  time  at  Stratford  than  might  have  been  expected.  The 
papers  and  letters  dated  there  make  it  evident  that  as  much  of  his  busi- 
ness as  possible  was  transacted  from  the  home  he  loved  in  Westmore- 
land. There  he  could  supervise  his  plantation,  plan  and  oversee  the  edu- 
cation of  his  children,  and  enjoy  the  society  of  his  neighbors.  The  closest 
friendship  existed  always  between  the  families  of  Stratford,  Mount  Airy, 
Sabine  Hall,  Peckatone,  and  Nominy  Hall. 

The  Stratford  gardens  were  Lee’s  special  delight;  and  he  seized  every 
chance  to  add  to  them,  even  in  the  midst  of  business.  From  an  official 
journey  to  Philadelphia,  in  1744,  he  probably  brought  to  Stratford  the 
beautiful  Lombardy  poplars  and  weeping  willows  which  survived  over 
a hundred  years.  At  one  of  the  official  dinners  his  host  was  Andrew 
Hamilton,  who  had  a famous  country  seat  outside  of  Philadelphia. 
Hamilton,  like  Lee,  was  an  enthusiastic  horticulturist  and  was  especially 
interested  in  the  importation  to  the  colonies  of  rare  trees,  shrubs,  and 
plants  from  England  and  many  other  parts  of  the  old  world.  In  his  ex- 
perimental nursery  were  the  first  and  only  poplars  and  willows  known 
at  that  period.  Thus  it  was  undoubtedly  through  Hamilton  that  Lee  in- 
troduced these  trees  to  Virginia — and  to  Stratford. 

’Mentioned  by  Nancy  Shippen  Livingston  in  a letter  to  her  nephew  William  Shippen : Ship- 
pen  Papers  : Dr.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen. 


View  from  one  of  the  dining-room  windows  looking  toward  the  river. 


THE  BUILDING  OF  THE  GREAT  HOUSE 


61 


Numerous  records  point  to  Thomas  Lee’s  never-flagging  interest  in 
botanical  matters  in  general  and  the  Stratford  gardens  in  particular.  He 
writes  his  brother  Henry  about  "the  grafted  trees  I left  in  boxes  in  the 
Garden.  ...”  Like  all  garden  makers  of  the  American  colonies,  he 
coveted  seeds,  bulbs,  shrubs,  and  trees  from  England  and  delighted  in 
exchanging  for  them  his  own  Virginia  products.  His  cousin,  Lancelot 
Lee  of  Coton,  Shropshire,  wrote  him  May  21,  1745:  '"After  all  give  me 
leave  to  beg  a small  favor  of  you — the  following  trees  are,  I believe, 
native  of  Virginia,  which  I have  endeavored  to  procure  seeds  of,  but 
have  hitherto  been  unsuccessful — the  Virginia  Cypress  (it  grows  on 
wet  marshy  land),  the  scarlet  oak,  and  the  paria,  or  scarlet  flowering 
horse  chestnut.  The  cones  of  the  Cypress  should  be  sent  entire;  the 
acorns  and  chestnuts  will  easily  keep  so  short  a voyage.  Pardon  this 
trouble,  which  if  I can  return  with  anything  this  Island  affords  within 
my  power,  you  may  fully  command.”' 

It  may  have  been  Lancelot  who  gave  Thomas  Lee  the  seeds  for  the 
majestic  English  beeches  at  Stratford  which  were  probably  planted  there 
when  the  site  for  the  Great  House  was  determined.  In  the  letter  quoted, 
Lancelot  Lee  apparently  comments  on  his  Virginia  cousin’s  description 
of  his  orangery:  "Your  fruits  and  shades  are  indeed  delightful.  I have 
tasted  them  in  the  eastern  though  not  in  the  "western’  world.” 

Thus  to  the  robust  English  character  of  the  early  Stratford  gardens, 
their  fine  symmetry  and  spacious  proportions,  was  added  a certain  East- 
ern quality,  a tropic  richness  borne  out  by  the  frequently  recurring  men- 
tion of  the  orangeries,  the  figs,  the  pomegranates. 

To  the  education  of  his  sons  Lee  gave  much  attention.  About  this 
time  the  three  older  boys,  having  had  several  years’  instruction  at  home 
from  tutors  carefully  selected  by  their  father,  were  sent  to  England. 
Philip  Ludwell  and  Thomas  Ludwell  were  to  complete  their  law  studies, 
and  Richard  Henry  was  entered  at  a long  established  school  in  York- 
shire. 

From  surviving  letters  and  documents  it  is  evident  that  Thomas  Lee’s 
sons  and  daughters  had  a great  respect  and  admiration  for  their  father. 
They  also  loved  him  devotedly.  Years  later  Alice  Lee  told  her  children 
that  there  was  in  her  father’s  countenance  a look  unlike  that  of  other 
men,  as  of  one  whose  spirit  overflowed  with  the  milk  of  human  kind- 
ness. He  ""was  wise  and  Philosophic,”  she  said;  "His  eve  beamed  hos- 
pitality,” and  his  smile  expressed  its  very  essence. 


s Magazine  of  the  Society  of  the  Lees  of  Virginia  Vol.  I,  No  3,  October,  1923,  p.  98. 


62  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

When  Alice’s  son,  Thomas  Lee  Shippen,  visited  Stratford  Hall  forty 
years  after  her  father’s  death,  he  wrote  his  parents:  "...  There  is 
something  truly  noble  in  my  grandfather’s  picture — He  is  dressed  in  a 
large  wig  flowing  over  his  shoulders  (probably  his  official  wig  as  Presi- 
dent of  the  Council)  and  a loose  gown  of  crimson  sattin  richly  orna- 
mented— I mention  the  dress  as  it  may  serve  to  convey  to  you  some  idea 
of  the  stile  of  the  picture.  But  it  is  his  physiognomy  that  strikes  you 
with  emotion — A blend  of  goodness  & greatness — a sweet  yet  pene- 
trating eye — a finely  marked  set  of  features,  and  a heavenly  counte- 
nance— Such  I have  almost  never  seen.  Do  not  think  me  extravagant— 
My  feelings  were  certainly  so  when  I dwelt  with  rapture  on  the  pictures 
of  Stratford  and  felt  so  strong  an  inclination  to  kneel  to  that  of  my 
grandfathe[r],  It  was  with  difficulty  that  my  uncles  who  accompanied 
me  could  persuade  me  to  leave  the  Hall  to  look  at  the  gardens  vine- 
yards orangeries  & lawns  which  surround  the  House.  . . .”9 

In  the  year  1748  more  changes  came  in  the  life  at  Stratford  with  the 
first  wedding  in  the  family.  Hannah,  the  elder  daughter  of  the  house, 
was  married  to  her  kinsman,  Gawen  Corbin  of  Peckatone.  No  descrip- 
tion of  the  wedding,  nor  any  feature  of  it,  is  available;  but  it  took  place, 
no  doubt,  in  the  Great  Hall  at  Stratford. 

In  January,  1749,  the  year  after  her  daughter’s  marriage,  Hannah 
Ludwell  Lee  died.  She  had  borne  her  husband  eleven  children.  As 
mistress  of  Stratford  Hall,  she  had  directed  the  large  plantation  house- 
hold, the  indentured  servants  and  the  slaves  in  their  domestic  work  and 
crafts.  She  had  cared  for  them  in  sickness  as  she  had  cared  for  her 
husband  and  children — "a  most  tender  mother,’’  it  is  written  of  her.10 
Her  body  was  carried  over  the  long  road  to  Matholic,  their  first  home, 
where  she  had  come  as  a bride  from  Green  Spring  twenty-eight  years 
before.  She  was  laid  to  rest  in  the  family  burial  ground,  in  Burnt  House 
Fields. 

Thomas  Lee  had  a deep  and  abiding  love  for  Hannah  Lee.  His  last 
will  and  testament,  drawn  a few  weeks  after  her  death,  says:  "As  to  my 
Body,  I desire  if  it  Pleases  God  that  I dye  anywhere  in  Virginia,  if  it  be 
Possible  I desire  that  I may  be  buried  between  my  Late  Dearest  Wife 
and  my  honoured  Mother  and  that  the  Bricks  on  the  side  next  my  wife, 

8Autographed  signed  letter  from  Thomas  Lee  Shippen  dated  September  20,  1790:  Shippen 
Papers,  Library  of  Congress. 

10 77m  Gentleman's  Magazine  and  Historical  Chronicle,  Vol.  XX,  1750.  By  Sylvanus  Urban, 
Gent.,  London.  Printed  by  Edward  Cave,  at  St.  John’s  Gate. 


The  first  mistress  of  Stratford  Hall:  Hannah  Ludwell  Lee,  ivife  of  Thomas  Lee  and 
mother  of  the  famous  Lees : from  the  original  portrait  hy  an  unknown  artist. 


64 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


may  be  moved,  and  my  Coffin  Placed  as  near  hers  as  is  Possible,  without 
moving  it  or  disturbing  the  remains  of  my  Mother.” 

Someone  who  knew  and  loved  Hannah  wrote  this  ode  to  her  mem- 
ory:11 

Lo ! from  yon  solitary,  sad  recess, 

Bending  this  way,  in  dismal  pomp  of  dress, 

Big  with  some  fatal  news,  The  Goddess  of  distress ! 

The  bat  and  screech-owl  on  her  shoulders  stand. 

And  yew  and  cypress  fill  each  wringing  hand; 

Streaming  her  eyes,  dishevell’d  all  her  hair, 

And  moving  with  her  cries  the  melting  air, 

GRIEF’S  self  appears,  who  never  visits  day, 

But  when  uncommon  worth  is  snatch’d  away. 

T come,  she  cries,  to  wail  Constantia  dead! 

Phoenix  of  woman,  and  the  marriage  bed! 

When  will  again,  such  charms,  and  virtues  meet! 

Ah,  when  a mind  and  body  so  complete! 

Thro’  wide  America’s  extended  plains, 

Lament  with  me,  ye  gentle  nymphs  and  swains! 

Her  dear-felt  loss,  oh,  aid  me  to  deplore! 

Ne’er  will  you  see  the  sweet  Constantia  more: 

Ne’er  hear  again  the  musick  of  her  tongue, 

Softer  by  far  than  Philomela’s  song. 

Who  can  refuse  the  tributary  tear 
To  one  so  lov’d,  so  affable,  sincere  ? 

Ah,  what  a mistress!  how  descending  kind! 

And  to  the  needy  what  a pitying  mind ! 

Ye  husbands,  and  ye  children  come  and  mourn, 

The  fondest  wife,  and  mother  in  her  urn! 

Ye  kindred,  friends,  ye  virtue-lovers,  all, 

Oh,  let  ye  pearly  drops  in  torrents  fall! 

Nor  to  my  wretched  grot  will  I return, 

Till  I have  taught  the  hardest  heart  to  mourn.” 


11 The  Gentleman’s  Magazine  and  Historical  Chronicle,  Vol.  XX,  1750.  By  Sylvanus  Urban, 
Gent.,  London.  Printed  by  Edward  Cave,  at  St.  John’s  Gate. 


CHAPTER  IV:  COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


ASA  MEMBER  of  His  Majesty’s  Council,  Thomas  Lee  took  an  in- 
creasingly  active  part  in  colonial  affairs.  With  him  originated  the 
JL  JJL  project  of  purchasing  from  the  Iroquois  their  lands  beyond  the 
Alleghenies.  It  was  his  suggestion  that  Virginia,  Maryland,  and  Penn- 
sylvania form  a Commission  to  act  jointly  to  protect  their  boundaries 
and  make  the  western  lands  safe  for  English  settlement.  The  plan  re- 
ceived immediate  cooperation  from  the  governors  of  these  respective 
provinces  who,  during  the  summer  of  1744,  established  the  Commission 
with  representatives  from  each  colony  to  treat  with  the  chiefs  of  the 
Six  Nations  at  the  little  frontier  town  of  Lancaster,  Pennsylvania.  This 
was  the  second  attempt  made  in  the  American  colonies  for  joint  action 
against  a common  foe.  The  first,  initiated  during  1690,  in  the  Province 
of  New  York,  had  been  to  unite  neighboring  colonies  to  repel  the  long- 
feared  Canadian  invasion.  Over  half  a century  later,  Thomas  Lee,  see- 
ing the  common  danger  to  Virginia,  Maryland,  and  Pennsylvania  from 
the  menace  of  the  French  and  Iroquois,  therefore  took  measures  for  the 
joint  security  of  these  colonies. 

The  Honorable  William  Gooch,  Lieutenant  Governor  of  Virginia, 
appointed  Colonel  Lee,  with  William  Beverley,  to  head  the  Colony’s 
delegation  attending  the  Council.  The  official  document  reads: 

1744:  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  and  Wm.  Beverley,  Esq.  appointed  commissioners  to 
treat  with  the  Six  Nations: 

Whereas  of  late  some  misunderstandings  and  Differences  have  arisen  between 
His  Majestys’  Subjects  of  this  Dominion  and  the  Six  United  Nations  of  Indians, 
and  being  induced  by  several  Representations  and  Messages  interchanged,  to 
believe  that  they  are  desirous  to  enter  into  Treaty  with  this  Government  &c  &c 


Know  ye  that  I reposing  special  trust  &c  in  the  experience,  Loyalty  Integrity 
and  Abilities  of  Thomas  Lee  Esqr  a member  in  Ordinary  of  His  Majestys’  honble 
Council  of  State,  and  one  of  the  Judges  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  Judication  in 
this  Colony — and  of  Wm  Beverley  Esqr  Col:  and  County  Lieutenant  of  the 
County  of  Orange  and  one  of  the  Representatives  of  the  People  in  the  House  of 
Burgesses  of  this  Colony  and  Dominion  of  Virginia  &c  . . . have  &c  nomi- 
nated & constituted  the  said  Thomas  Lee  and  Wm  Beverley  Commissioners  &c 
to  meet  the  Six  Nations  or  Such  Sachems  &c  as  shall  be  deputed  by  them  &c 
...  at  Newtown  in  Lancaster  C°  Province  of  Pensylvania  &c — 1 
The  Six  Nations  was  the  most  formidable  confederacy  of  Indians  on 
the  continent.  Not  only  did  it  menace  Pennsylvania  and  Virginia;  but 


'Calendar  of  Virginia  State  Papers,  Volume  I.  p.  238. 


[65] 


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68  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

unless  its  claims  to  lands  in  Maryland  as  well  as  the  territory  of  the  Ohio 
basin  could  be  disposed  of  by  purchase,  no  settlement  in  these  three 
colonies  was  safe  from  massacre. 

During  the  second  week  of  May,  1744,  Commissioner  William  Bev- 
erley of  Blandfield  met  Lee  at  Stratford.  All  of  the  "Gentlemen  of 
their  Levies”  came  together  there:  Colonel  John  Tayloe,  Jr.,  of  Mount 
Airy;  Warner  Lewis  of  Warner  Hall,  Gloucester;  James  Littlepage  of 
Fredericksburg;  Robert  Brooke  of  Brooke’s  Bank  on  the  Rappahannock; 
and  Presley  Thornton  of  North  Garden.  Lee’s  eldest  son,  Philip  Lud- 
well  Lee,  was  also  a member  of  the  expedition.  On  the  morning  of 
Thursday,  May  17,  the  group  left  Stratford  by  boat  for  Annapolis,  from 
which  point  they  proceeded  to  Pennsylvania. 

At  the  joint  request  of  the  Virginia  and  Maryland  commissioners, 
Governor  Thomas  of  Pennsylvania  had  called  the  Iroquois  together 
months  before.  The  chiefs  and  other  braves  of  the  Six  Nations  came 
from  long  distances  with  their  squaws  and  children.  They  traveled  in 
leisurely  fashion,  pitching  camp,  hunting,  and  fishing  as  they  journeyed. 
It  was  late  in  June  before  the  various  groups  reached  Lancaster,  and — 
some  250  in  number — put  up  their  wigwams  just  outside  the  town. 

The  Council  opened  in  the  courthouse  on  June  22  and  sessions  were 
held  each  day  until  the  second  week  of  July.  Of  all  the  Indian  con- 
ferences in  colonial  history,  the  Council  at  Lancaster  was  one  of  the 
most  interesting  and  colorful.  From  its  opening  session  to  the  close, 
Thomas  Lee  was  the  embassy’s  central  figure  and  as  "Brother  Assa- 
ragoa,”  its  chief  spokesman.  Lee’s  tone  with  the  Indians  was  firm,  his 
speech  direct,  quite  as  though  he  were  speaking  to  a group  of  English- 
men. His  long  acquaintance  with  the  Indians  of  the  Potomac  and  Rap- 
pahannock region  and  with  their  figurative  form  of  speech,  added,  how- 
ever, a new  note  to  his  expression  that  doubtless  must  have  clarified  for 
his  auditors  the  points  at  issue.  The  only  speeches  of  Lee’s  career  that 
have  been  preserved  are  those  given  at  Lancaster,  one  of  which,  his 
closing  address,  seems  to  have  been  a factor  in  determining  the  issues 
at  stake: 

Sachims  and  Warriors  of  the  united  Six  Nations. 

We  are  now  come  to  answer  what  you  said  to  us  Yesterday,  since  what  we 
said  to  you  before  on  the  Part  of  the  Great  King,  our  Father,  has  not  been 
satisfactory.  You  have  gone  into  old  Times,  and  so  must  we.  It  is  true  that  the 
Great  King  holds  Virginia  by  Right  of  Conquest,  and  the  Bounds  of  that  Con- 
quest to  the  Westward  is  the  Great  Sea. 

If  the  Six  Nations  have  made  any  Conquest  over  Indians  that  may  at  any 


Honorable  Thomas  Lee,  President  of  the  Council  and  Commander  in  Chief  of  Virginia: 
from  the  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist. 


70 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


Time  have  lived  on  the  West-side  of  the  Great  Mountains  of  Virginia,  yet  they 
never  possessed  any  Lands  there  that  we  have  ever  heard  of.  That  Part  was  alto- 
gether deserted,  and  free  for  any  People  to  enter  upon,  as  the  People  of 
Virginia  have  done,  by  Order  of  the  Great  King,  very  justly,  as  well  by  an 
ancient  Right,  as  by  its  being  freed  from  the  Possession  of  any  other,  and  from 
any  Claim  even  of  you  the  Six  Nations,  our  Brethren,  until  within  these  eight 
Years.  The  first  Treaty  between  the  Great  King,  in  Behalf  of  his  Subjects  of 
Virginia,  and  you,  that  we  can  find,  was  made  at  Albany,  by  Colonel  Henry 
Coursey,  Seventy  Years  since;  this  was  a Treaty  of  Friendship,  when  the  first 
Covenant  Chain  was  made,  when  we  and  you  became  Brethren. 

The  next  Treaty  was  also  at  Albany,  above  Fifty-eight  Years  ago,  by  the 
Lord  Howard,  Governor  of  Virginia;  then  you  declare  yourselves  Subjects  to 
the  Great  King,  our  Father,  and  gave  up  to  him  all  your  Lands  for  his  Protec- 
tion. This  you  own  in  a Treaty  made  by  the  Governor  of  New  York  with  you 
at  the  same  Place  in  the  Year  1687,  and  you  express  yourselves  in  these  Words, 
"Brethren,  you  tell  us  the  King  of  England  is  a very  great  King,  and  why  should 
not  you  join  with  us  in  a very  just  Cause,  when  the  French  join  with  our  Enemies 
in  an  unjust  Cause?  O Brethren,  we  see  the  Reason  of  this;  for  the  French 
would  fain  kill  us  all,  and  when  that  is  done,  they  would  carry  all  the  Beaver 
Trade  to  Canada,  and  the  Great  King  of  England  would  lose  the  Land  likewise; 
and  therefore,  O Great  Sachim,  beyond  the  Great  Lakes,  awake,  and  suffer  not 
those  poor  Indians,  that  have  given  themselves  and  their  Lands  under  your 
Protection,  to  be  destroyed  by  the  French  without  a Cause.” 

The  last  Treaty  we  shall  speak  to  you  about  is  that  made  at  Albany  by  Gov- 
ernor Spotswood , which  you  have  not  recited  as  it  is:  For  the  white  People, 
your  Brethren  of  Virginia,  are,  in  no  Article  of  that  Treaty,  prohibited  to  pass, 
and  settle  to  the  Westward  of  the  Great  Mountains.  It  is  the  Indians,  tributary 
to  Virginia,  that  are  restrained,  as  you  and  your  tributary  Indians  are  from 
passing  to  the  Eastward  of  the  same  Mountains,  or  to  the  Southward  of  Cohon- 
gorooton,  and  you  agree  to  this  Article  in  these  Words:  That  the  Great  River  of 
Potoivmack,  and  the  high  Ridge  of  Mountains,  which  extend  all  along  the 
Frontiers  of  Virginia  to  the  Westward  of  the  present  Settlements  of  that  Colony, 
shall  be  for  ever  the  established  Boundaries  between  the  Indians  subject  to  the 
Dominions  of  Virginia,  and  the  Indians  belonging  and  depending  on  the  Five 
Nations;  so  that  neither  our  Indians  shall  not,  on  any  Pretence  whatsoever,  pass 
to  Northward  or  Westward  of  the  said  Boundaries,  without  having  to  produce 
a Passport  under  the  Hand  and  Seal  of  the  Governor  or  Commander  in  Chief  of 
Virginia ; nor  your  Indians  to  pass  to  the  Southward  or  Eastward  of  the  said 
Boundaries,  without  a Passport  in  like  Manner  from  the  Governor  or  Com- 
mander in  Chief  of  New-York. 

And  what  Right  can  you  have  to  Lands  that  you  have  no  Right  to  walk  upon, 
but  upon  certain  Conditions  ? It  is  true,  you  have  not  observed  this  Part  of  the 
Treaty,  and  your  Brethren  of  Virginia  have  not  insisted  upon  it  with  a due 
Strictness,  which  has  occasioned  some  Mischief. 

This  Treaty  has  been  sent  to  the  Governor  of  Virginia  by  Order  of  the  Great 
King,  and  is  what  we  must  rely  on,  and,  being  in  Writing,  is  more  certain  than 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


71 


your  Memory.  That  is  the  Way  the  white  People  have  of  preserving  Transac- 
tions of  every  Kind,  and  transmitting  them  down  to  their  Childrens  Children 
for  ever,  and  all  Disputes  among  them  are  settled  by  this  faithful  kind  of  Evi- 
dence, and  must  be  the  Rule  between  the  Great  King  and  you.  This  Treaty 
your  Sachims  and  Warriors  signed  some  Years  after  the  same  Governor  Spots- 
wood,  in  the  Right  of  the  Great  King,  had  been,  with  some  People  of  Virginia , 
in  Possession  of  these  very  Lands,  which  you  have  set  up  your  late  Claim  to. 

The  Commissioners  for  Indian  Affairs  at  Albany  gave  the  Account  we  men- 
tioned to  you  Yesterday  to  the  Governor  of  New-York,  and  he  sent  it  to  the 
Governor  of  Virginia;  their  Names  will  be  given  you  by  the  Interpreter. 

Brethren. 

This  Dispute  is  not  between  Virginia  and  you;  it  is  setting  up  your  Right 
against  the  Great  King,  under  whose  Grants  the  People  you  complain  of  are 
settled.  Nothing  but  a Command  from  the  Great  King  can  remove  them;  they 
are  too  powerful  to  be  removed  by  any  Force  of  you,  our  Brethren;  and  the 
Great  King,  as  our  common  Father,  will  do  equal  Justice  to  all  his  Children; 
wherefore  we  do  believe  they  will  be  confirmed  in  their  Possessions. 

As  to  the  Road  you  mention,  we  intended  to  prevent  any  Occasion  for  it, 
by  making  a Peace  between  you  and  the  Southern  Indians,  a few  Years  since, 
at  a considerable  Expence  to  our  Great  King,  which  you  confirmed  at  Albany. 
It  seems,  by  your  being  at  War  with  the  Catawbas,  that  it  has  not  been  long 
kept  between  you. 

However,  if  you  desire  a Road,  we  will  agree  to  one  on  the  Terms  of  the 
Treaty  you  made  with  Colonel  Spotswood,  and  your  People,  behaving  them- 
selves orderly  like  Friends  and  Brethren,  shall  be  used  in  their  Passage  through 
Virginia  with  the  same  Kindness  as  they  are  when  they  pass  through  the  Lands 
of  your  Brother  Onas.  This,  we  hope,  will  be  agreed  to  by  you  our  Brethren, 
and  we  will  abide  by  the  Promise  made  to  you  Yesterday. 

We  may  proceed  to  settle  what  we  are  to  give  you  for  any  Right  you  may 
have,  or  have  had  to  all  the  Lands  to  the  Southward  and  Westward  of  the 
Lands  of  your  Brother  the  Governor  of  Maryland,  and  of  your  Brother  Onas ; 
tho’  we  are  informed  that  the  Southern  Indians  claim  these  very  Lands  that 
you  do. 

We  are  desirous  to  live  with  you,  our  Brethren,  according  to  the  old  Chain 
of  Friendship,  to  settle  all  these  Matters  fairly  and  honestly;  and,  as  a Pledge 
of  our  Sincerity,  we  give  you  this  Belt  of  Wampum. 

Shortly  after  this  speech  the  treaty  was  signed  by  the  Indian  chiefs 
and  by  the  members  of  the  Commission.  Its  provisions  called  for  the 
cession  of  all  lands  "that  were  and  should  be  claimed  by  the  Indians 
within  the  province  of  Virginia’’  for  the  consideration  of  about  $2,000. 
Likewise,  the  lands  they  claimed  in  Maryland  were  confirmed  to  that 
Colony,  the  Indians  agreeing  "not  to  come  again  east  of  the  Allegheny 
Mountains  or  South  of  the  Potomac.”  Thus  England  acquired  and  con- 
firmed in  one  stroke  its  claim  to  the  Ohio  basin,  and  simultaneously 
protected  its  northwestern  colonial  frontier  in  America. 


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Facsimile  of  the  instructions  from  Governor  Gooch  providing  for  the  appointment  of 
the  Virginia  commission  to  negotiate  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster. 


+U . 


74 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


2 

For  some  years  after  the  making  of  the  Lancaster  Treaty  the  settle- 
ment of  the  newly-acquired  lands  remained  a problem  to  the  Colony. 
Virginia,  like  her  sister  provinces,  Pennsylvania  and  Maryland,  claimed 
these  "waste  lands”  to  the  west,  and  slowly  her  more  adventurous 
spirits  made  their  way  over  the  mountains.  Grants  had  been  given  the 
veterans  of  the  wars  with  France,  and  pressure  was  being  brought  to 
bear  upon  the  Colony  to  protect  their  settlements.  These  difficulties 
during  1744,  together  with  dangers  of  Indian  attacks  and  French  ag- 
gression, had  in  the  first  place  led  Lee  to  project  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster. 
The  purchase  of  lands  from  the  Iroquois  then  seemed  at  once  a solution 
for  Virginia’s  own  problems  and  the  opening  of  a vast  territory  to 
British  settlement. 

The  purchase,  however,  was  but  the  first  stage  of  this  project  which 
Lee  had  so  long  cherished.  It  was  now  obvious  that  the  haphazard 
colonization  of  the  Ohio  basin  by  private  individuals  could  not  con- 
tinue. Many  of  these  settlers  were  little  better  than  squatters,  ill- 
equipped  for  the  rigors  of  frontier  life.  An  easy  prey  to  Indian  attack, 
they  were  a constant  source  of  anxiety  for  their  own  sake  and  because 
they  were  invitation  to  raids  nearer  the  heart  of  the  Colony.  According- 
ly, Lee  turned  over  in  his  mind  ways  and  means  of  settling  the  territory 
under  the  auspices  of  a land  company.  This  was  in  line  with  the  British 
colonial  policy  of  encouraging  expansion  by  offering  rich  rewards  to 
speculators.  There  was  money  to  be  made  in  developing  a new  market, 
but  first  the  market  had  to  be  created  by  the  planting  of  settlements 
underwritten  and  protected  by  the  company.  In  this  way  the  Virginia 
Company  and  the  Massachusetts  Bay  Company  had  been  not  only  specu- 
lative ventures  but  also  the  instruments  of  British  expansion  as  well. 

Early  in  1749,  Indian  troubles,  largely  instigated  by  the  French,  were 
again  imminent;  and  Lee  saw  that  the  time  was  ripe  to  press  his  plans 
for  such  a company.  He,  therefore,  interested  a number  of  his  Maryland 
and  Virginia  friends  in  entering  into  association  with  a group  of  Lon- 
don merchants  to  form  the  Ohio  Companv.  The  original  American 
members  were  Thomas  Nelson,  Colonel  William  Thornton,  William 
Nimmo,  Daniel  Cresap,  John  Carlyle,  George  Fairfax,  Jacob  Giles,  Na- 
thaniel Chapman,  and  Joseph  Woodrup.2.  Lee  was  named  president. 

2Other  members  who  joined  several  years  later  were  Governor  Dinwiddie.  George  Mason, 
John  Mercer  and  his  three  sons,  George.  James,  and  John  Francis:  Richard  Lee  of  Lee  Hall, 
Thomas  Ludwell  Lee,  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  John  Tayloe,  Gawen  Corbin,  Presley  Thornton,  Rev. 

James  Scott,  and  Lomax.  The  Virginia  Magazine  of  History  and  Biography,  Vol.  XII, 

No.  1,  July,  1904,  p.  162-163. 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OE  VIRGINIA 


75 


The  company’s  petition  to  the  Privy  Council  solicited  a grant  of  500,- 
000  acres  for  "settling  the  countrys  upon  the  Ohio  and  extending  Brit- 
ish trade  beyond  the  mountains  on  the  western  confines  of  Virginia.’’ 
Two  hundred  thousand  acres  were  to  be  selected  immediately;  the  com- 
pany was  to  pay  no  quitrents  for  ten  years,  but  was  to  settle  one  hundred 
families  within  a seven-year  period.  It  was  also  to  build  a fort  at  its  own 
expense  and  maintain  a garrison  for  defense  against  the  Indians. 

Negotiations  dragged  on  for  months.  On  March  16,  1759,  the  peti- 
tion was  granted  by  the  Council.  At  length  the  Board  of  Trade  ordered 
the  governor  of  Virginia  to  pass  the  grant,  and  the  Ohio  Land  Company 
was  chartered  July  12,  1749.  The  noted  explorer,  Christopher  Gist,  was 
employed  to  examine  and  survey  the  lands.  Arrangements  were  made 
for  the  purchase  of  stocks  of  goods  to  the  value  of  £4,000,  and  emigrants 
from  the  Colony  were  soon  on  their  way  west. 

During  his  long  term  as  administrator  of  the  Colony,  Lieutenant  Gov- 
ernor Gooch  had  not  shown  great  enthusiasm  for  Councillor  Lee’s 
project.  Although  he  had  appointed  the  commissioners,  he  had  never 
insisted  upon  authorization  of  their  expenses;  and  payment  finally  de- 
volved upon  Lee  and  Beverley,  chiefly  upon  the  former.  Gooch’s  failing 
health  may  have  been  partly  responsible  for  his  lack  of  interest.  His 
request  for  retirement  on  this  account  was  granted  in  the  summer  of 
1749,  and  he  returned  to  his  home  in  England. 

The  President  of  the  Council,  a native  Virginian,  John  Robinson,  suc- 
ceeded Gooch  as  acting  governor  on  August  14,  and  Thomas  Lee,  as 
ranking  councillor,  took  Robinson’s  place  as  president.  A few  weeks 
later  Robinson  died  suddenly,  and  Lee,  on  September  fifth,  1749,  be- 
came acting  governor  of  Virginia.  Henceforth  he  was  officially  referred 
to  in  the  State  papers  as  "Thomas  Lee,  Esq.,  President  of  our  Council 
and  Commander  in  Chief  of  our  Colony  and  Dominion.” 

At  last  in  a position  to  push  the  development  of  the  company’s  plans 
more  vigorously,  Lee  had  at  once  to  deal  with  difficulties  of  a new 
nature.  This  time  it  was  not  only  the  French  who  inspired  the  Indians 
to  attack  the  new  settlers,  but  also  Englishmen  from  other  colonies,  who 
did  not  propose  to  see  the  Ohio  Land  Company  take  over  lands  which 
they  considered  their  own. 

From  Stratford,  where  he  had  planned  and  organized  the  company, 
Lee  wrote  to  his  friend  Hamilton,  who  had  succeeded  Thomas  as  Gov- 
ernor of  Pennsylvania: 


76 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


Stratford,  22d  November  1749. 
Sir, 

I had  the  Pleasure  to  congratulate  You  on  your  arrival  to  your  Government 
by  the  Favour  of  my  Friend  Mr.  Strettell;  I had  great  satisfaction  when  I heard 
of  your  being  advanced  to  that  Honourable  Station,  because  I had  a very  great 
Esteem  for  You  ever  since  I had  the  Honour  to  know  You. 

Upon  Sr.  William  Gooch’s  leaving  this  Colony  the  Government  here  has 
devolved  upon  me  as  eldest  Councellor,  and  I hope  the  good  Agreement  that 
will  subsist  between  us  will  be  of  service  to  both  Governments. 

I am  sorry  that  so  soon  I am  obliged  to  complain  to  You  of  the  insidious 
behaviour,  as  I am  informed,  of  some  traders  from  your  Province,  tending  to 
disturb  the  Peace  of  this  Colony  and  to  alienate  the  Affections  of  the  Indians 
from  Us. 

His  Majesty  has  been  graciously  pleased  to  grant  to  some  Gentlemen  and 
Merchants  of  London  and  some  of  both  sorts  of  this  Colony,  a large  Quantity 
of  Land  West  of  the  Mountains,  the  design  of  this  Grant  and  one  condition 
of  it  is  to  Erect  and  Garrison  a Fort  to  protect  our  trade  (from  the  French) 
and  that  of  the  neighboring  Colonies,  and  by  fair  open  Trade  to  engage  the 
Indians  in  Affection  to  his  Majestie’s  Subjects  to  supply  them  with  what  they 
want  so  that  they  will  be  under  no  necessity  to  apply  to  the  French,  and  to 
make  a very  strong  Settlement  on  the  Frontiers  of  this  Colony,  all  which  his 
Majesty  has  approved  and  directed  his  Governor  here  to  assist  the  said  Company 
in  carrying  their  laudable  design  into  Execution;  but  your  Traders  have  pre- 
vailed with  the  Indians  on  the  Ohio  to  believe  that  the  Fort  is  to  be  a bridle  for 
them,  and  that  the  roads  which  the  Company  are  to  make  is  to  let  in  the 
Catawbas  upon  them  to  destroy  them,  and  the  Indians  naturally  jealous  are  so 
possessed  with  the  truth  of  these  insinuations  that  they  threaten  our  Agents  if 
they  survey  or  make  those  roads  that  they  have  given  leave  to  make,  and  by  this 
the  carrying  the  King’s  Grant  into  execution  is  at  present  impracticable.  Yet 
these  are  the  Lands  purchased  of  the  Six  Nations  by  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster. 

I need  not  say  any  more  to  prevail  with  you  to  take  the  necessary  means  to  put 
a stop  to  these  mischievous  practices  of  those  Traders.  We  are  informed  that 
there  is  Measures  designed  by  the  Court  of  France  that  will  be  mischievous  to 
these  Colonys  which  will  in  Prudence  oblige  Us  to  unite  and  not  divide  the 
Interest  of  the  King’s  Subjects  on  the  Continent.  I am  with  Esteem  & Respect, 
&c. 

A few  weeks  later  Lee  sent  this  additional  statement  to  the  Pennsyl- 
vania governor: 

Stratford,  20th  December,  1749.  Sir,  Since  the  Letter  I had  the  Pleasure  to 
write  You  I have  found  it  necessary  to  write  to  the  Lords  of  the  Treasury  desir- 
ing their  Lordships  to  obtain  the  King’s  Order  for  running  the  dividing  Line 
betwixt  this  Colony  and  Yours,  else  many  difficultys  will  arise  upon  the  seating 
the  Large  Grants  to  the  Westward  of  the  Mountains.  In  the  case  of  the  Earl 
of  Granville  and  Lord  Fairfax  this  method  was  taken  and  Commissioners 
appointed  by  his  Majesty  and  those  noble  Lords.  I thought  it  proper  to  acquaint 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


77 


you  with  this  Step  that  there  might  be  no  Surprize  and  that  a matter  of  such 
Consequence  may  meet  with  as  little  Delay  as  the  Nature  of  it  will  admit.  I am 
with  all  possible  Esteem,  &c. 

Officially  the  trouble  was  smoothed  over,  but  inter-colonial  jealousy 
caused  endless  wrangles  over  boundaries  and  titles,  long  after  the  Ohio 
Land  Company  had  ceased  to  exist. 

Lee  did  not  live  to  see  his  company  touch  off  the  French  and  Indian 
War  of  1754.  Stirred  by  the  influx  of  new  families  into  territories  to 
which  she  still  laid  claim,  France  sent  Contrecoeur  into  the  region  to 
discourage  further  settlement  by  terrorization.  At  the  forks  of  the  Ohio 
the  company’s  fort  to  protect  the  settlers,  being  built  by  Virginia,  was 
abandoned  and  later  completed  by  Contrecoeur,  who  named  it  Fort 
Duquesne.  With  Braddock’s  ill-fated  expedition  against  it,  the  bloody 
wars  for  the  Ohio  Company’s  lands  began,  to  end  only  in  1763  with 
the  recalling  of  settlers  from  the  territory. 

The  Ohio  Land  Company  caused  more  blood  to  flow  than  did  the 
great  companies  of  Virginia  and  Massachusetts  Bay.  Nor  did  it  work  out 
a system  of  government  which  served  as  a foundation  for  colonial  ad- 
ministration. But  it  did  carry  on  the  work  begun  at  the  Treaty  of  Lan 
caster.  It  helped  to  make  the  Ohio  basin  English  soil. 

3 

One  of  Thomas  Lee’s  greatest  services  to  Virginia  during  his  presi- 
dency was  his  success  in  dealing  with  Indians  closer  at  hand  than  the 
Ohio  Valley.  Perhaps  no  man  in  Virginia  was  better  prepared  for  such 
a service.  In  the  seventeen  years  since  his  appointment  to  the  Council, 
he  had  become  thoroughly  familiar  with  its  Indian  policy.  Having  been 
in  council  with  the  Six  Nations,  he  knew  the  chiefs  well;  and  he  also 
had  personal  friendly  relations  with  the  southern  Indians. 

One  of  the  memorable  acts  of  his  administration  was  to  save  from 
extirpation  an  entire  tribe  of  Indians  friendly  to  British  interests.  The 
Iroquois,  incited  by  the  French,  were  secretly  conspiring  to  attack  their 
own  kinspeople,  the  Catawbas,  and  wipe  them  out,  to  the  last  man.  Lee 
was  not  one  to  be  surprised  by  this  bloody  design.  From  sources  which 
he  did  not  reveal,  he  learned  of  the  plot  and  warned  the  Catawbas  in 
time  to  save  them.  These  facts  are  known  from  a letter  Lee  received 
from  the  Board  of  Trade  of  Great  Britain,  written  from  Whitehall, 
September  1,  1750. 3 

“The  original  document  is  in  the  Virginia  Miscellaneous  Papers,  in  the  Library  of  Congress 
So  far  as  is  known  it  has  never  appeared  in  print  in  any  form.  It  is  one  of  the  very  few  signifi- 
cant papers  extant  which  relates  to  Lee’s  administration. 


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L 7? fyy  X‘fy?'ir>  77 '7  7-7/  / ( X///X/  /t  7/ *,/ y/ rt  / X'<  /7-  Xt  / 7y 
yX/J  ( X&x/  y Xfct  X? Y?  7?  7 f .7/7 y?  / ?///'/ yXz  / 7/7% 
X/X/  7?  ' <7  7 X?r*jf;  Y/Y/XtY  Xst  77  7?  X/Y///  %/& 

7/r/i  <777%-  / //  0 

// “ ^ x 


7X7  7 y X 77<7  XAy  yY  XX/tT/  7 -Y  'Xy7  CaXt^X/X/X' 

X/i  X 7?7jX/r  y?~/r/?  e-X^/  L77>  X?Z'7^  /X  7t7  C t/z? 


jL  *^x^y  txL/^X/r/Xd/Jf 

yy  X?S?Z  s?z*i  S-j  /Z-  T XXsy/yXyftXXj) 

Facsimile  of  first  page  of  original  letter,  dated  Whitehall  [London']  September  1,  17 SO, 
to  Pi  esident  Lee  from  the  Board  of  Trade  and  Plantations. 


Y/  T/n  X/yy  ' 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


79 


Under  signature  of  the  Right  Honorable  George  Dunk,  Earl  of 
Halifax,  First  Lord  Commissioner  for  Trade  and  Plantations,  the  Board 
commends  Lee  for  his  action  and  at  the  same  time  makes  an  interesting 
statement  of  British  colonial  policy  in  French  and  Indian  relations: 

We  are  sensible  of  how  great  Importance  it  is  to  preserve  the  Amity  and 
good  Friendship  of  the  Neighbouring  Indians,  particularly  the  Six  Nations  so 
powerful  in  themselves,  who  have  been  so  long  considered  as  His  Majesty’s 
Subjects,  and  who  possess  so  large  a Tract  of  Country  bordering  upon  His 
Majesty's  Settlements;  We  are  therefore  very  much  concerned  to  hear  that 
there  was  reason  to  apprehend  that  the  Six  Nations  were  engaged  in  a Design 
to  extirpate  the  Catawbas,  a People  so  well  affected  to  the  British  Interest;  You 
certainly  did  right  in  giving  Intelligence  to  the  Catawbas  of  this  Design,  but 
We  still  must  hope  that  the  French  have  not  been  able  to  prevail  with  the 
Six  Nations  to  carry  it  into  Execution. 

Your  Intentions  of  Claiming  the  Assistance  of  the  Indians  to  confirm  the 
King’s  Right  to  those  Lands  which  were  purchased  at  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster 
in  1744,  at  the  Time  when  you  are  to  make  a Present  to  the  Six  Nations,  & to 
those  Tribes  of  Indians  seated  on  the  River  Ohio,  is  very  prudent;  and  We  do 
not  doubt  but  you  will  improve  the  same  Opportunity  by  endeavouring  to 
cultivate  a strict  Harmony  with  the  Six  Nations,  and  dissuade  them  from 
entering  into  the  Measures  of  the  French  in  prejudice  of  His  Majesty’s  Subjects 
and  of  the  Indians  in  Alliance  with  us. 

We  are  persuaded  that  you  will  in  pursuance  of  your  Instructions  take  all  due 
Care  to  protect  His  Majesty’s  Subjects  under  your  Government  in  possession  of 
their  just  Rights,  and  to  prevent  any  Encroachments  whatever  upon  his  Maj- 
esty’s Territories. 

In  return  for  his  services  to  the  Catawbas,  Lee  undoubtedly  planned 
to  claim  their  help  in  protecting  His  Majesty’s  subjects  in  Virginia  and 
also  in  confirming  His  Majesty’s  right  to  the  lands  secured  to  Britain  bv 
the  Treaty  of  Lancaster. 

While  the  Catawbas  must  have  looked  upon  President  Lee  as  their 
friend  and  protector,  he  was  acting  more  particularly  as  the  protector  of 
Virginia,  since  the  Indians  were  a constant  menace  to  the  colonies  and 
friendly  relations  with  near-by  tribes  were  a safeguard  to  colonial  pros- 
perity. In  this  respect,  Lee  was  endeavoring  to  carry  out  the  charge  of 
the  Empire  to  "take  all  due  care  to  protect  his  Majesty’s  subjects.” 

It  was  important,  too,  that  the  Virginia  colonists  should  be  protected 
from  Indian  raids  inspired  by  the  French.  Lee  had  his  own  sources  of 
information  on  the  French  and  Indian  situation  and  was  constantly  alert 
for  new  developments.  The  Lords  of  Trade  and  Plantations  understood 
the  importance  of  such  an  attitude: 

We  are  glad  to  find  the  French  have  failed  in  their  unjustifiable  Attempts 
to  stir  up  the  Indians  on  the  Ohio,  against  His  Majesty’s  Subjects,  and  as  they 


80  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

are  at  this  time  so  remarkably  assiduous  in  their  Endeavours  to  sow  Discord 
amongst  the  several  Nations  of  Indians  in  Amity  with  Us,  you  will  not  fail  when 
you  deliver  His  Majesty’s  Presents  to  the  Indians,  to  use  all  Means  of  Persuasion 
whereby  their  Affection  to  the  British  Interest  in  general  may  be  secured;  the 
Wavering  confirmed;  the  Steady  encouraged;  all  Differences  amongst  them- 
selves reconciled,  and  perfect  Harmony  established;  And  above  all,  no  En- 
deavours must  be  wanting  to  prevent  their  entering  into  Measures  with  the 
French;  either  thro’  the  Fear  of  Resentment,  or  the  Hopes  of  Gain. 

At  the  time  of  the  correspondence  quoted,  Lee  was  endeavoring  to 
promote  peace  between  the  southern  Indians  and  the  Iroquois,  and 
working  for  this  end  with  Governor  Clinton  of  New  York.  Clinton 
wrote  Lee  on  August  7,  1750: 

Sir— 

Your  Letter  of  the  6th  June  and  the  11th  July,  I received  the  4th  Instant:  And 
have  lately  a Letter  from  Governour  Glen,  advising  the  great  danger  there  is 
of  the  total  destruction  of  the  Cattawbas,  as  many  Nations  of  Indians,  far 
Superior  to  them  in  Number,  have  for  some  time  past  carried  on  a War  against 
them  and  therefore  desiring  me  to  use  my  Endeavours  with  the  Indians,  over 
whom  I have  any  influence,  to  dissuade  them  from  going  to  War  with  the 
Creeks  and  Cattawbas.  I have  with  the  Advice  of  his  Majesty’s  Council  taken 
what  steps  herein,  we  thought  could  be  of  any  Service,  and  now  write  to  Mr. 
Glen,  inclosing  a Copy  of  the  Treaty  of  Peace  made  between  the  Southern 
Indians  and  the  five  Nations,  and  urging  the  Necessity  of  the  former  sending 
their  Deputies  to  Albany,  as  the  only  means  by  which  a peace  can  be  established 
between  them. 

The  Cattawbas  might,  I believe,  be  induced  to  come  to  Albany,  notwith- 
standing their  present  Apprehensions;  If  they  are  told,  that  they  may  come 
thro  Virginia  and  Pensilvania  the  lower  way,  with  the  greatest  safety  to  this 
place,  and  from  hence  they  will  be  under  the  protection  of  this  Government, 
and  it  will  be  out  of  the  Power  of  our  Indians  to  do  them  any  hurt,  if  they  might 
otherwise  have  been  disposed  to  revenge  themselves:  And  we  hope  you  will 
use  your  utmost  Interest  with  the  Cattawbas  and  other  Southern  Indians,  to  in- 
cline them  to  a meeting  at  Albany;  which  would  be  most  effectual  at  the  time 
I meet  the  five  Nations  there:  When  this  will  happen  I cannot  at  present 
tell,  but  if  the  Southern  Nations  are  willing  to  send  their  Deputies  thither,  I 
shall  give  you  notice  So  that  they  may  arrive  in  proper  Season. 

I am  very  much 

Sir 

Your  very  humble  Servant 
G.  Clinton 

Lee  did  not  approve  of  this  proposal  for  a meeting  in  New  York  State. 
Albany  was  in  Iroquois  country.  It  was  far  north  and  the  long  journey 
there  was  too  dangerous  for  the  Catawbas.  He  planned  instead  to  bring 
the  Six  Nations  to  Fredericksburg  and  in  Virginia  smoke  the  pipe  of 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


81 


peace.  That  the  Board  of  Trade  approved  of  this  idea  is  shown  from 
another  paragraph  in  this  same  letter  already  quoted: 

We  are  glad  you  have  received  His  Majesty’s  Presents  for  the  Indians  of  the 
Six  Nations,  & other  Tribes  upon  the  Ohio,  if  you  succeed  in  your  Design  of 
Bringing  them  to  Fredericksburg  in  your  Colony,  and  inviting  the  Catawbas  to 
meet  them  personally,  to  make  a Peace  there;  all  the  Purposes  which  the  Gov- 
ernor of  New  York  could  propose  by  their  meeting  at  Albany  will  be  answered. 

But  plans  for  the  Fredericksburg  Council  never  materialized  in  Lee’s 
lifetime. 

The  colonial  governor  had  to  be  both  statesman  and  general.  His 
military  duties  were  specific  and  comprehensive.  Empowered  now  as 
Commander  in  Chief  of  the  Colony  "to  exercise  control  over  all  the  cap- 
tains and  soldiers”  in  territory  administered  by  Virginia,  Lee  knew 
the  strategic  places  to  station  them.  He  had  the  power  to  build  and 
repair  forts,  batteries  and  fortifications,  and  provide  them  with  ordnance. 
Part  of  his  duties  were  to  attend  the  different  musters,  make  tours  of 
inspection,  and  review  the  companies  of  rangers  stationed  at  the  heads 
of  the  rivers. 

On  file  in  the  Public  Record  Office,  London,  are  President  Lee’s  re- 
ports of  the  account  of  munitions  and  stores  of  war  at  Williamsburg  in 
both  the  magazine  and  the  governor’s  house,  with  an  account  of  the 
condition  of  the  guns  "in  ye  sevl.  Forts  of  Virginia  in  July  1750.”  Copies 
of  these  original  documents  are  at  Williamsburg. 

The  erection  by  Lee  of  a battery  and  lighthouse  near  the  Southern 
Capes  and  of  the  prompt  measures  he  took  to  repair  damage  done  to 
Fort  George  are  shown  by  another  excerpt  from  the  official  letter  from 
Whitehall: 

We  have  transmitted  to  His  Majesty’s  Secretary  of  State  such  Part  of  your 
Letter  of  the  12th  of  June  as  relates  to  the  Damage  done  to  Fort  George,  and 
to  Indian  Affairs;  but  We  have  not  received  the  Account  of  that  Damage 
referred  to  in  the  Letter,  nor  the  Estimate  of  the  Cost  of  repairing  the  Fort;  if 
the  turning  it  into  a Battery  will  answer  the  End  (and  that  We  must  leave  to 
your  Judgement)  it  will  be  right  to  save  the  Expence  of  a compleat  Repair  of 
the  Fort  in  its  present  Form. 

The  erecting  a Battery  and  Light  House  at  or  near  the  Southern  Capes,  ap- 
pears to  Us,  according  to  your  account,  to  be  equally  advantageous  to  Naviga- 
tion and  to  the  Security  of  the  Colony;  and  the  Method  you  propose  of  defraying 
the  Charge  by  a Tonnage  upon  Shipping  seems  to  be  easy  & reasonable. 

One  incident  in  Lee’s  administration  points  to  his  concern  for  the 
development  and  maintenance  of  religious  freedom — "the  Affair  of 
Mr.  Davi[e]s,  the  Presbyterian.”  The  Whitehall  letter  refers  to  some 


82  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

occurrence,  now  forgotten,  when  it  was  difficult  to  preserve  freedom  of 
speech  and  at  the  same  time  prevent  religious  disputes.  The  practical 
viewpoint  of  the  British  Lord  of  Trade  as  expressed  in  this  letter  is  of 
significance: 

With  regard  to  the  Affair  of  Mr.  Davi[e]s  the  Presbyterian;  as  Tolleration  and 
a free  Exercise  of  Religion  is  so  valuable  a Branch  of  true  Liberty,  and  so 
essential  to  the  enriching  and  improving  of  a Trading  Nation,  it  should  ever  be 
held  sacred  in  His  Majesty’s  Colonies;  We  must  therefore  earnestly  recommend 
it  to  your  Care,  that  nothing  be  done  which  can  in  the  least  affect  their  great 
Point;  At  the  same  time  you  will  do  well  to  admonish  Mr.  Davi[e]s  to  make  a 
proper  Use  of  that  Indulgence  which  our  Laws  so  wisely  grant  to  those  who 
differ  from  the  Established  Church,  and  to  be  cautious  not  to  afford  any  just 
Cause  of  Complaint  to  the  Clergy  of  the  Church  of  England,  or  to  the  People 
in  General. 

Lee  also  supervised  the  repairs  and  reconstruction  of  the  gardens  of 
the  Governor’s  house  at  Williamsburg  and  the  house  itself,  which  had 
been  rendered  uninhabitable  by  fire.  During  his  brief  term  as  governor, 
so  soon  and  so  prematurely  ended,  he  occupied  the  Castle  at  Green 
Spring. 

As  "President  of  Virginia”  or  as  "President  and  Commander  in  Chief 
of  the  Colony  of  Virginia,”  Thomas  Lee  controlled  all  judicial,  civil, 
and  military  appointments  in  the  Colony  during  1749-50,  thus  having, 
as  William  G.  Stanard  observes,  in  every  sense  the  full  power  of  gov- 
ernor. From  Westmoreland  County  Records  are  the  following  items: 

Court-orders,  1747-50,  p.  127,  June  27,  1749. 

A Commission  from  the  Honourable  Sir  William  Gooch,  Baronet  to  James 
Steptoe,  Gent,  to  be  Sheriff  of  this  County  &c.  Sd.  James  having  taken  the 
oaths  &c.  was  Sworn  &c. 

P.  128. 

Wm.  Monroe,  Gent  presented  a Commission  from  Honhle  Sir  Wm.  Gooch, 
Baronet  appointing  him  Capt.  of  Foot  Soldiers. 

P.  203,  June  7,  1750. 

Fleet  Cox,  Gent.  Presented  a Commission  from  The  Honble  Thomas  Lee,  Esq. 
President  appointing  him  the  said  Fleet  Cox  One  of  the  Inspectors  of  Tobacco 
at  Yeocomico  & Rusts  Warehouses  in  this  county,  who  being  Sworn  according 
to  Law  is  hereby  ordered  to  Enter  in  the  Execution  of  the  said  Office. 

Court-orders,  1750-52,  p.  4,  Aug. 28,  1750. 

Benjamin  Weeks,  Gent,  presented  a Commission  from  the  President  of 
Virginia  appointing  him  Capt.  of  a Company  of  foot  Soldiers  in  the  County 
and  in  Pursuance  thereof  took  the  Oath  to  the  Crown  and  Subscribed  the  Test. 

In  addition  to  the  giving  of  such  appointments  Thomas  Lee  had  the 
full  authority  to  make  land  grants,  a power  vested  only  in  the  governor. 
That  he  lsed  this  power  wisely  is  shown  by  his  interest  in  the  develop- 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


83 


ment  of  the  country  "to  the  westward’’  in  Virginia  and  his  activity  in 
opening  opportunities  for  settlement  by  responsible  and  representative 
families  who  would  build  up  this  part  of  Virginia.  In  the  Land  Office 
at  Richmond  there  are  364  pages  of  grants  alone  under  the  signature  of 
Thomas  Lee.  The  usual  form  of  such  grants  is  shown  in  the  following 
two,  quoted  with  the  form  of  witness  signature  to  the  letters  patent,  as 
found  in  Book  29: 

December  15,  1749 
400  Acres  to  Matthew — [p.  1] 

400  A.  to  Jos.  Adcock  [p.  2] 

291  A.  to  Nicholas  [p.  3] 

November  3,  1750 

200  Acres  to  Nathaniel  Davis  [p.  325] 

180  A.  to  Benj.  Bennett  [p.  364], 

In  Witness  whereof  we  have  caused  these  our  Letters  Patent  to  be  made — 
Witness  our  trusty  and  well  beloved  Thomas  Lee,  Esq.  President  of  our 
Council  and  Commander-in-Chief  of  our  Colony  and  Dominion  at  Williams- 
burg, under  the  Seal  of  our  said  Colony  the  third  Day  of  November  1750 

Thomas  Lee  President. 

The  records,  cited  in  this  chapter,  probably  represent  but  a fraction  of 
the  work  Thomas  Lee  accomplished  in  the  fourteen  months  of  his  ad- 
ministration; for  his  tasks— military,  judicial,  diplomatic,  and  civil — 
were  a burden  for  any  one  man. 

When  illness  first  overcame  him  in  June,  1750,  he  was  forced  to  leave 
Williamsburg  for  a brief  rest.  Virginia’s  dependence  on  him  is  clearly 
shown  in  the  fragment  of  a letter  (unaddressed  and  undated)  in  the 
papers  of  William  Dawson  in  the  Library  of  Congress: 

The  Preside  has  been  ever  since  at  the  back  Springs — and  as  the  old  Laws 
expired  and  the  new  Body  took  place  on  the  11th  of  June  during  his  absence, 
we  have  been  a country  without  Justices  since  that  time  for  want  of  commis- 
sions being  signed  for  the  several  Counties.  He  is  now  on  his  return  at  Urbanna. 

Back  again  in  Williamsburg,  Thomas  Lee  did  not  spare  himself. 
His  signature  on  civil  documents,  land  grants,  and  other  official  papers, 
appears  on  these  records  until  within  a few  days  of  his  death  at  Strat- 
ford on  the  fourteenth  of  November,  1750.  His  directions  for  his 
funeral  services  were  included  in  the  will: 

Having  observed  much  indecent  mirth  at  Funerals,  I desire  that  Last  Piece 
of  Human  Vanity  be  Omitted  and  that  attended  only  by  some  of  those  friends 
and  Relations  that  are  near,  my  Body  may  be  silently  intered  with  only  the 
Church  Ceremony  and  that  a Funeral  sermon  for  Instruction  to  the  living  be 
Preached  at  the  Parish  Church  near  Stratford  on  any  other  Day. 

The  careful  instructions  for  his  burial,  also  left  in  his  will,  were  carried 


The  long-lost  inscription  on  the  monument  to  Thomas  Lee  at  Pope's  Creek  Church,  writ- 
ten by  Richard  Henry  Lee.  Preserved  in  a memorandum  book  by  Thomas  Lee  Ship  pen. 


The  glare  of  Thomas  and  Hannah  Ludwell  Lee  in  Burnt  House  Fields. 


COMMANDER  IN  CHIEF  OF  VIRGINIA 


87 


out  to  the  letter:  his  coffin  was  placed  between  that  of  his  wife  and  his 
mother.  The  bricks  on  the  side  next  to  Hannah  Lee’s  grave  were  moved 
and  her  husband’s  body  placed  close  beside  hers  as  he  had  directed.4 

Engraved  upon  their  tomb  are  these  lines: 

Here  lies  Buried  the  Hon’ble  Col.  Thomas  Lee,  Who  dyed  14  November, 
1750;  Aged  60  years;  and  his  beloved  wife,  Mrs.  Hannah  Lee.  She  departed 
this  life  25  January,  1749-50.  Their  monument  is  erected  in  the  lower  church 
of  Washington  Parish,  in  this  County;  five  miles  above  their  Country  seat,  Strat- 
ford Hall. 

In  the  churchyard  of  this  "lower  church  of  Washington  Parish,’’ 
Pope’s  Creek  Church,  parish  church  of  the  Stratford  Lees  and  the 
Washingtons,  Thomas  Lee’s  eldest  son  Philip  raised  a monument  to  his 
parents  "of  parti-coloured  marble’’  and  the  inscription  was  written  by 
their  fifth  son,  Richard  Henry  Lee:5 

This  monument  was  erected  to  ye  memory  of  the  honorable  Col.0  Thomas 
Lee  Commander  in  chief  and  President  of  his  Majesty’ s Council  for  this  Colony 
— descended  from  the  very  antient  and  honorable  family  of  Lee  in  Shropshire 
who  died  Nov.  4th  1 750  aged  60  years. 

Sacred  to  lee  this  reverential  pile 
Reader  lament  superior  worth  a while 
Late  what  he  was  these  faithful  lines  declare 
An  upright  governor — - example  rare 
Public  or  private  in  each  station  just 
Ambitious  only  to  discharge  his  trust 
Virtue  of  all  his  views  the  means  and  end 
To  Country  & to  Court  alike  a friend 
This  nice  but  happy  secret  still  he  knew 
To  be  the  ruler  & the  patriot  too  — 

Nor  less  distinguished  for  the  social  trust 

Of  all  that  can  adorn  a man  possess’d 

To  native  parts  he  added  ye  acquir’d 

And  was  himself  the  scholar  he  admir’d 

Call’d  to  no  bar  nor  bred  to  plead  a cause 

Y et  as  a Hardwick  learned  in  the  Laws 

Warm  in  his  friendship  as  he  was  sincere 

A father  & a husband  truly  dear 

Heaven’s  favorite  virtue  daily  he  desplay’ d 

And  thousands  felt  this  charitable  aid 

If  we  look  back  to  Alan’s  primeval  Earth 

Could  Paradise  be  fraught  with  more  celestial  worth. 

Quis  desiderio  sit  pudor  aut  modus  tarn  cari  capitis.0 

JThis  was  ascertained  in  quite  recent  years  when  the  new  wall  was  built  around  Burnt  House 
Fields  and  repairs  made  there  by  the  Society  of  the  Lees  of  Virginia. 

‘Original  unpublished  document  recorded  by  Thomas  Lee  Shippen,  discovered  by  the  writer 
and  loaned  by  Dr.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen. 

6What  limit  can  there  be  to  our  regret  at  the  loss  of  so  dear  a friend. 


CHAPTER  V:  THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 

1 

PRESIDENT  LEE’S  death  in  the  prime  of  life  and  at  the  peak  of 
his  service  for  Virginia,  was  widely  mourned.  William  Nelson  of 
York  wrote  the  family  November  17,  1750:  "I  am  verv  sensible  of 
the  general  loss  We  have  sustained  in  the  Death  of  our  truly  good 
President;  on  which  melancholy  occasion  I heartily  condole  with  You.” 
Thomas  Lee  of  Stratford  Hall  was  a man  for  whom  other  men  seemed 
to  have  an  exceptional  liking  and  admiration.  Many  personal  testi- 
monies, references,  and  items  in  wills,  documents,  and  letters  prove 
this  circumstance.  When  Lee’s  brother-in-law  William  Fitzhugh  of 
Eagle’s  Nest  died,  he  appointed  Lee  the  guardian  of  his  children.  When 
Henry  Lee  made  his  will  July  30,  1746,  he  appointed  his  brother 
Thomas  guardian  of  his  son  Henry  and  his  daughter  Lettice.  He  said 
further,  ' It  is  my  desire  that  my  Wife  and  three  Sons  do  in  the  man- 
agement of  their  Estate  take  advice  of  my  two  Brothers  The  Hon’ble 
Thomas  Lee  Esq.  and  Col°.  William  Beverley.”  When  one  of  Lee’s 
friends  and  neighbors,  William  Chanler,  was  in  a dilemma  about  the 
confidential  making  and  depositing  of  his  will — "not  that  he  was  afraid 
of  his  wife  but  did  not  want  to  live  uneasy  with  her,” — he  sought  the 
counsel  of  Thomas  Lee. 

Even  the  irascible  and  eccentric  John  Custis  of  Arlington,  on  the 
Eastern  Shore,  was  devoted  to  Thomas  Lee  and  gave  him  a ring  in  testi- 
mony of  his  friendship.  Colonel  John  Tayloe  of  Mount  Airy  had  a 
warm  affection  for  his  friend  and  neighbor  of  the  Northern  Neck  and 
in  his  will  left  Lee  a mourning  ring,  a mourning  suit,  and  two  hundred 
and  fifty  pounds.  Both  Colonel  Grymes  and  Colonel  Lightfoot  also 
bequeathed  mourning  rings  to  Thomas  Lee.  His  friend  Colonel  Thomp- 
son left  him  his  gun  and  his  riding  horse. 

Five  of  President  Lee’s  sons  were  to  honor  his  memory  throughout 
their  lives  by  acts  of  public  service  unsurpassed  in  the  histories  of  Ameri- 
can families.  In  them  were  to  be  exemplified  the  constructive  influences 
of  their  father’s  character  and  life. 

As  the  eldest  of  the  family  and  heir-at-law  of  his  father’s  estate, 
Philip  Ludwell  Lee  was  now  master  of  Stratford  and  was  charged  with 
the  care  and  education  of  his  younger  brothers  and  his  little  sister. 
Thomas  was  also  an  executor  of  their  father’s  will,  and  with  Philip,  was 
appointed  guardian  of  the  younger  children.  He  was  only  in  his  twen- 
tieth year  and  Philip  was  twenty-four.  Living  elsewhere  were  the  other 

[88] 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OE  STRATEORD 


89 


two  executors  and  guardians,  their  kinsmen,  Richard  and  Gawen  Cor- 
bin. Philip  appears  to  have  had  matters  in  his  own  hands. 

Thomas  Lee  left  to  each  one  of  his  six  sons  and  two  daughters  specific 
legacies  in  land,  negroes,  stock,  money,  or  personal  belongings.  His 
large  estate  included  lands  in  six  counties:  Westmoreland,  Northumber- 
land, Stafford,  Prince  William,  Fairfax,  and  Loudoun.  To  Philip,  as  the 
eldest  son,  came  the  major  portion  of  the  estate,  Stratford  Hall  with 
its  messuages  and  appurtenances  and  its  more  than  six  thousand  acres: 
"I  give  and  devise  to  my  Eldest  son  all  my  Lands  in  the  County  of 
Westmoreland  and  Northumberland,”  ran  the  lines  of  Thomas  Lee’s 
will,  "to  my  Eldest  son  and  the  heirs  male  and  his  body  Lawfully  be- 
gotten forever.  . . . 

"Item.  I give  and  bequeath  to  my  Eldest  son  and  his  heirs  forever  all 
my  Lands  on  the  Eastern  Shoare  of  Maryland  and  called  Rehoboth,  my 
two  Islands,  Moreton  and  Eden  in  Cohongaronto  or  Potomack,  3,600 
on  the  broad  run  of  Potomac  and  to  include  half  the  good  land  on 
Cohongaronto  or  Potomac,  which  is  mv  first  Patent,  Survey  by  Thomas 
Stooper  Surveyor  and  all  my  Land  at  or  near  the  falls  of  the  Potomac  in 
three  Patents  or  deeds  Containing  in  the  three  Patents  above  3,000  acres, 
all  these  Lands,  I give  my  Eldest  son  in  fee  simple  and  I give  my  said  son 
all  the  Utensils  on  the  said  Lands.  . . . 

"Item.  I give  to  my  Eldest  son  one  hundred  Negroes  about  ten  vears 
old,  and  all  of  and  under  that  age  on  the  Lands  I have  given  him  but  what 
above  a 100  yt  are  above  ten  vrs  old  to  be  divided  as  hereafter  is  men- 
tioned, and  in  this  Gift  to  make  up  the  numbers,  I give  all  my  Trades- 
men. all  which  Negroes  young  and  old  I annex  to  the  Land  given  my 
Eldest  son  to  pass  and  Descend  with  the  said  Lands  as  the  Law  Com- 
monly Called  the  Explanatory  Law  directs.” 

His  wishes  in  regard  to  the  manner  and  method  of  the  settlement  of 
his  estate  were  definitely  expressed: 

"Item.  My  Will  is  and  I accordingly  desire  yt  my  whole  Estate  be 
kept  together  till  all  my  debts  and  Legacies  be  settled  and  Paid.  Item.  I 
will  and  Devise  yt  if  any  of  my  younger  children  dye  before  twenty  one  yt 
in  such  case  that  Legacy  be  p'd  in  equal  parts  to  such  other  as  live  to  be 
twenty  one,  that  is  my  two  daughters  and  my  youngest  sons.  Item.  I 
give  to  my  Second  Son  mv  Gold  watch  and  seal.  Item.  I Give  all  the 
Rest  and  Residue  of  my  Estate  to  my  Eldest  son  and  his  heirs  forever, 
and  the  several  Bequests  and  Legacies  heretofore  given  I give  in  lieu  and 
full  satisfaction  of  their  Filial  portions  and  so  I desire  it  mav  be  taken 


Northeast  dependency  of  the  Great  House,  probably  the  Stratford  School. 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


91 


and  understood,  and  I hope  I have  Expressed  so  plainly  that  a Lawyer 
will  not  find  room  to  make  Constructions  prejudicial  to  mv  Family.” 
At  the  time  their  father  died,  Philip  Ludwell,  Thomas  Ludwell,  and 
Richard  Henry  were  still  in  England.  Philip  was  studying  law  at  the 
Inner  Temple  in  London;  Thomas  Ludwell’s  school  or  chambers  are  not 
recorded;  Richard  Henry  was  completing  his  final  year  at  Wakefield 
Academy  in  Yorkshire.  The  two  older  boys  appear  to  have  returned  at 
once  to  Virginia,  but  Richard  Henry  remained  to  complete  his  course  at 
the  grammar  school  and  to  make  the  European  tour,  evidently  pre- 
arranged. 

Early  in  the  new  year  of  1751  it  would  appear  that  six  of  the  Lee 
children  were  at  Stratford:  Philip  Ludwell  and  Thomas  Ludwell; 
Francis  Lightfoot,  aged  sixteen;  Alice,  about  fourteen;  William,  in  his 
twelfth  year;  and  Arthur,  the  youngest,  ten  years  old. 

Of  the  eleven  children  born  to  Thomas  and  Hannah  Lee,  three  had 
died:  Richard,  their  first  born,  Lucy,  and  John.  Their  names  and  birth 
dates  are  all  that  is  known  of  them.  Hannah  was  the  only  member  of 
the  Stratford  family  who  in  the  late  1740’s  was  married.  The  wife  of 
Gawen  Corbin,  she  was  now  mistress  of  Peckatone  Plantation,  distant 
some  twenty  miles  from  Stratford — a long  way  at  that  time. 

When  it  came  to  the  kind  of  education  his  children  should  have, 
Thomas  Lee  had  practical  ideas.  "I  desire  and  impower  my  Ex’ors 
who  I appoint  Guardians  to  my  children,”  he  wrote,  "to  educate  my 
children  in  such  manner  as  they  think  fitt  Religiously  and  virtuously  and 
if  necessary  to  bind  them  to  any  profession  or  Trade,  soe  that  they  mav 
Learn  to  get  their  Living  honestly.” 

One  of  the  dependencies  of  the  Great  House  was  no  doubt  used  as 
the  Stratford  School  and  the  lodging  of  the  tutors.  It  was  probably  the 
northeast  building.  According  to  the  local  historian  of  the  Northern 
Neck  (in  the  eighteen-eighties),  Rev.  George  Washington  Beale: 

Much  of  the  educational  training  of  the  sons  and  daughters  of  Stratford  was 
derived  from  private  tutors,  engaged  in  Scotland,  who,  here  gained  their  early 
impression  of  the  New  World.  How  much  the  intellectural  force  and  acumen 
exhibited  by  the  founders  of  the  Republic  was  indebted  to  teachers  of  this 
class,  it  would  not  be  easy  to  determine.  Two  of  these  employed  at  Stratford 
were  the  Rev.  David  Currie,  afterwards,  for  more  than  fifty  years,  rector  in 
Lancaster;  and  the  Rev.  William  Douglass,  who  also  numbered  among  his 
pupils  James  Monroe  and  Thomas  Jefferson.  Several  of  Mr.  (Thomas)  Lee’s 
sons,  who  subsequently  became  eminent,  were  sent  to  England  or  Scotland  for 
the  completion  of  their  education. 


92  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

From  this  statement  it  would  appear  that  the  three  older  boys  were 
prepared  for  their  English  schools  by  Dr.  Currie  and  Dr.  Douglass. 
The  Rev.  Mr.  Craig  was  the  tutor  at  Stratford  in  later  years,  probably 
during  the  decade  from  1746  to  1756,  when  he  instructed  Francis  Light- 
foot  Lee,  Alice,  William,  and,  for  a brief  space,  little  Arthur.  Under 
the  regime  of  Philip  Ludwell  the  Stratford  School  continued  in  session. 

In  speaking  of  Arthur,  the  youngest  of  the  family,  his  biographer,  R. 
H.  Lee  (his  great  nephew)  says:  "according  to  the  customs  of  that  day, 
in  regard  to  the  younger  sons,  [he]  was  left,  until  an  advanced  period 
of  boyhood,  with  the  children  of  his  father’s  slaves;  to  partake  of  their 
fare,  and  to  participate  in  their  hardy  sports  and  toils.  Hence  his  body 
was  early  inured  to  hardship  and  his  mind  accustomed  to  unrestrained 
exercise  and  bold  adventure.” 

The  child  was  only  eight  years  old  when  his  gentle  mother  died.  Ac- 
cording to  surviving  letters  Arthur  and  William  were  treated  with  sever- 
ity by  their  elder  brother  Philip.  William,  especially,  wrote  him  bitterly: 
"certainly  to  be  twelve  years  out  of  my  pittance  which  my  father  left  me, 
without  even  common  interest  for  it,  while  you  have  been  indulging  in 
affluence  and  I,  procuring  my  bread  with  the  sweat  of  my  brow,  is  surely 
bad  enough  and  it  is  time  to  put  an  end  to  it.”  The  restrictions  appar- 
ently imposed  by  Philip  on  the  family  may  have  had  a part  in  helping  to 
fan  the  spirit  of  personal  independence  in  his  five  brothers. 

At  Stratford,  as  in  many  planters’  homes,  it  was  the  custom  for  several 
children  of  relatives  or  friends  to  come  for  visits  of  many  months  or 
even  several  years’  duration  and  attend  school  with  the  children  of  the 
family.  In  1753  William  James  Lewis  was  among  the  visitors  attending 
school  at  Stratford  with  Francis  Lightfoot,  Alice  and  William  Lee. 
A court  record  of  February  28th  of  this  year  shows  that  the  personal 
property  of  Billy  Lewis  was  stolen  by  one  James  Gall  who  was  "Com- 
mitted to  the  Goal  of  the  County  aforesd  for  breaking  and  Entering  the 
house  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  and  Stealing  from  thence  goods  and 
Money  to  the  Value  of  Six  pounds  at  Least,  the  Property  of  William 
James  Lewis.” 

Life  at  Stratford  finally  became  happier  because  the  children  appealed 
to  the  Court  for  a new  guardian — their  cousin,  Henry  Lee,  the  son  of 
their  father’s  favorite  brother.  With  his  appointment  and  Richard 
Henry’s  return  the  difficulties  with  Philip  must  have  been  greatly 
modified. 

Arthur  was  sent  to  school  at  Eton,  England,  between  1751  and  1752. 


Captain  Henry  Lee  of  Lee  Hall  and  Leesylvaiiia,  father  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  and 
guardian  of  the  Stratford  children:  from  an  original  portrait  by  an  unknown  artist. 


94  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

2 

Richard  Henry  Lee  returned  to  Stratford  in  1752.  Considerate  and 
interested  in  his  younger  brothers,  he  did  much  to  endear  himself  to 
them  and  to  influence  them  in  their  future  careers. 

His  grandson  R.  H.  Lee,  in  his  Memoir  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  says  of 
his  education: 

At  this  early  period  of  the  colony,  there  were  few  seminaries  of  learning  in 
which  the  higher  branches  of  education  were  taught.  The  youths,  whose  parents 
were  able  to  bear  the  expense,  were  always  sent  "home”  (as  it  was  then  ex- 
pressed) to  England,  to  complete  their  studies.  Accordingly,  Richard  H.  Lee, 
after  having  received  a grammatical  education  in  his  father’s  house,  under  the 
care  of  a private  teacher,  was  sent  to  England,  and  placed  at  the  academy  of 
Wakefield,  in  Yorkshire. 

Anecdotes  of  the  juvenile  years  of  those,  who  afterwards  become  conspicuous 
on  the  theatre  of  the  world,  when  indicative  of  character,  are  both  pleasing  and 
instructive.  It  is  related  of  Mr.  Lee,  that  when  a boy,  knowing  he  was  to  be 
sent  to  England,  it  was  his  custom  to  make  a stout  negro  boy  fight  with  him 
every  day.  To  his  angry  father’s  question,  "what  pleasure  can  you  find  in  such 
rough  sport,”  the  son  replied,  "I  shall  shortly  have  to  box  with  the  English 
boys,  and  I do  not  wish  to  be  beaten  by  them.” 

At  the  academy  of  Wakefield,  by  the  aid  of  skilful  teachers,  and  by  his  own 
attention  and  capacity,  he  made  rapid  progress  in  the  academical  course  of  study, 
particularly  the  Latin  and  Greek  languages:  his  admiration  of  the  nervous 
energy  of  the  one,  and  the  grace  and  melody  of  the  other,  exhibited,  at  an  early 
age,  maturity  and  correctness  of  taste. 

Richard  Henry  faced  other  complications  outside  of  Stratford’s  four 
walls — far  more  grave,  indeed.  The  effort  begun  by  his  father  at  Lan- 
caster to  have  Virginia,  Maryland,  and  Pennsylvania  make  common 
cause  of  common  dangers,  was  only  in  its  inception  when  the  Com- 
mander in  Chief  died.  In  the  several  years  after  his  death  the  compli- 
cations of  the  French  and  Indian  situation  increased;  and  war  was  im- 
pending. In  a desperate  effort  to  fend  off  disaster,  Governor  Dinwiddie 
sent  his  protest  to  the  French  at  Fort  Le  Boeuf.  The  messenger  he  ap- 
pointed to  carry  that  protest  was  a Westmoreland  County  lad — George 
Washington.  Young  Washington  of  Bridges’  Creek — the  next  planta- 
tion but  one  to  Stratford — was  among  the  earliest  friends  and  play- 
mates of  the  Stratford  Lees.  The  man  who  was  to  be  Washington’s 
chief  guide  and  helper  in  that  long  trek  through  the  wilderness  was 
Christopher  Gist,  whom  Thomas  Lee  had  appointed  as  the  first  path- 
finder of  the  wild  Allegheny  country. 

Soon  the  storm  would  break.  The  friendship  of  the  Iroquois,  won  for 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OE  STRATFORD 


95 


the  colonies  by  Thomas  Lee  at  Lancaster,  was  to  prove  one  of  the  bul- 
warks of  England’s  protection  in  the  French  and  Indian  War. 

Richard  Henry  offered  himself  and  his  company  of  Virginians  to 
General  Braddock  to  help  fight  the  French.  Braddock  turned  them 
down  as  "provincials.”  So  the  life  at  Stratford  during  the  years  between 
1750  and  1760,  though  set  against  the  background  of  the  French  and 
Indian  war  and  its  aftermath,  had  no  immediate  part  in  it.  The  Lee 
boys,  no  doubt,  followed  eagerly  all  news  of  the  brave  campaign  of 
their  friend,  Washington,  but  were  not  to  be  participants  with  him  in 
the  struggle. 

Richard  Henry  Lee  spent  these  stormy  years  quietly  at  Stratford. 
From  his  father’s  library  he  secured  what  was,  for  him,  the  equivalent 
of  the  university  course  which  might  have  supplemented  his  grammar 
school  work  at  Wakefield  Academy  had  his  father  lived.  To  again  quote 
his  biographer,  R.  H.  Lee: 

Although  he  [Richard  Henry]  at  this  period  passed  a life  of  ease  and  pleas- 
ure, it  was  not  one  of  idleness;  active  and  energetic,  he  was  always  in  search  of 
knowledge — and  the  very  extensive  library  which  his  father  had  collected,  fur- 
nished him  ample  means  of  gratifying  his  desire  for  intellectual  improvement. 
From  the  works  of  the  immortal  Locke,  he  acquired  an  ardent  fondness  for  the 
principles  of  free  government;  and  from  those  of  Cudworth,  Hooker,  Grotius, 
and  other  writers  of  the  same  class,  he  drew  maxims  of  civil  and  political 
morality.  He  read  with  deep  attention  and  admiration,  the  histories  of  the 
patriotic  and  republican  ages  of  Greece  and  Rome,  which  animated  his  love  of 
his  country,  and  of  liberty.  The  anarchy  which  too  often  disgraced  their  gov- 
ernments, taught  him  the  value  of  well  defined  constitutions,  to  guard  indi- 
viduals from  the  consequences  of  the  prejudices  of  the  many,  and  the  public 
prosperity  from  the  effects  of  popular  passion  and  caprice. 

His  taste  was  refined  by  reading  the  works  of  the  classic  poets,  both  ancient 
and  modern.  Homer,  Virgil,  Milton,  and  Shakespeare,  were  his  favorite  authors 
— of  the  last  he  was  enthusiastically  fond.  The  best  histories  of  every  age  were 
within  his  reach;  and  the  vast  fund  of  political  wisdom  derived  from  them  was 
strikingly  exhibited,  when,  in  future  life,  he  called  for  its  use  in  the  service  of 
his  country. 

Mr.  Lee,  without  any  view  to  the  practice,  made  himself  well  acquainted  with 
the  principles  of  the  civil  law,  and  the  laws  of  his  own  country.  He  applied  his 
mind  with  particular  care,  to  the  study  of  the  history,  and  the  constitution,  of 
England  and  her  colonies.  The  popular  features  of  these  governments  attracted 
his  admiration.  He  was  delighted  with  the  free  spirit  of  the  nation  from  which 
he  was  descended. 

The  author  has  in  his  possession,  the  manuscript  digests  and  synopses  of  the 
works  read  by  Mr.  Lee,  during  his  residence  with  his  brother;  they  discover  the 
habits  and  mode  of  his  study;  their  arrangement  is  new  and  always  judicious; 


96 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


the  subjects  are  well  illustrated,  and  the  views  of  the  authors,  when  given,  are 
concisely  expressed,  and  happily  condensed.  To  this  early  mode  of  study,  he 
was,  no  doubt,  indebted  for  that  conciseness  of  style,  of  which  he  afterwards  was 
as  much  a master,  as  he  was  of  brilliant  and  impressive  amplification. 

From  this  it  can  be  seen  that  Richard  Henry  gave  much  time  to  care- 
ful, systematic  study:  self-instruction  which  proved  later  to  be  prepara- 
tion for  the  career  which  was  to  mean  so  much  to  the  making  of  the  new 
republic. 

Three  of  the  famous  group  of  the  five  patriot  brothers,  Thomas  Lud- 
well,  Richard  Henry  and  Francis  Lightfoot,  studied  law  at  Stratford. 
Before  1760  they  were  Gentlemen  Justices  in  Westmoreland  as  their 
father  had  been.  Step  by  step,  from  the  smallest  county  office  to  state 
and  thence  to  national  affairs,  they  were  to  move  just  as  their  father  had 
done.  Every  generation  of  Lees  in  Virginia  had  carried  on  the  tradition 
of  service  to  King  and  Colony.  Thomas  Lee’s  sons  at  Stratford  had  the 
record  of  this  service  to  consider.  Undoubtedly  they  took  pride  in  it  and 
realized  their  own  responsibility  to  uphold  it. 

In  England,  for  a brief  period,  Philip  had  studied  law  at  the  Inner 
Temple  in  London.  He  was  never  the  student  his  brothers  were.1  In 
Virginia  he  began  his  legal  career  as  justice  of  the  peace  in  Westmore- 
land County. 

He  had  been  initiated  by  his  father  into  at  least  one  phase  of  the 
Colony’s  affairs  when  he  went  in  1744  with  the  embassy  to  negotiate 
the  Treaty  of  Lancaster.  So  high  was  the  esteem  in  which  his  father 
was  held  that  honors,  dignities,  and  high  county  and  state  appointments 
came  to  Philip,  as  his  father’s  eldest  son  and  the  representative  of  the 
family  at  Stratford.  Philip  was  only  twenty-four  years  old  when  Gov- 
ernor Dinwiddie  appointed  him  Leftenant  and  Commander  in  Chief  of 
Westmoreland  County,  November  27,  1752.  Four  years  later  Philip  was 
Presiding  Justice,  and  also  Burgess  for  Westmoreland.  Eventually  he 
succeeded  his  father  as  a member  of  His  Majesty’s  Council. 

During  the  late  1750’s  Philip  and  his  brother  Francis  explored  the 
lands  in  the  upper  country  of  Virginia  which  were  left  them  by  their 
father.  When  Loudoun  County  was  formed  from  Fairfax  in  1757  it 
included  many  acres  belonging  to  Thomas  Lee’s  sons.  The  county  seat, 
Leesburg,  established  in  1758,  was  named  for  the  Stratford  Lees,  and 
both  Philip  and  Francis  were  among  the  trustees  appointed  for  the 

’The  very  copy  of  the  “Lord  Coke’s  Institutes”  as  he  termed  them,  with  which  he  labored 
is  today  in  the  possession  of  The  Robert  E.  Lee  Foundation,  with  his  boyish  comment  on  “My 
great  and  noble  Lord  Coke.” 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


97 


town.  Several  years  later  Francis  was  to  live  there  for  a long  period 
and  to  represent  the  county  as  Burgess. 

Philip  was  always  far  more  interested  in  breeding  thoroughbreds,  in 
farming  the  Stratford  Plantation,  and  in  building  up  the  Stratford  mills 
and  waterfront  than  ever  he  was  in  the  classics,  law,  or  politics.  Not  even 
in  his  father’s  time  had  there  been  such  large  shipments  of  tobacco,  so 
much  mill  and  carpenter  work  done.  The  very  exigencies  of  the  situation 
may  have  caused  Philip’s  severity  to  his  brothers  and  the  servants.  Items 
in  the  court  records  give  an  accounting  of  petitions  for  justice  presented 
bv  various  indentured  servants  of  Philip  Lee’s  from  time  to  time.  The 
following  record  of  July  31,  1754  is  one  of  several: 

Richard  Mynatt  presented  his  petition  to  this  Court  vs.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee, 
Esq.  Setting  forth  that  he  had  served  out  the  time  for  which  he  was  indented 
and  that  the  sd.  Lee  refused  to  give  him  a discharge,  the  sd.  Lee  appeared  and 
the  matter  fully  debated  and  upon  mature  consideration  thereon  had  by  the 
Court  they  adjudged  him  free  and  Ordered  that  the  Clerk  give  him  a certificate. 

At  this  period  of  Philip  Lee’s  career  his  picture  is  drawn  by  a certain 
itinerant  British  tradesman,  one  George  Fisher  by  name.  In  the  spring  of 
1750,  Fisher  left  London  and  came  to  Virginia  to  start  business  in 
Williamsburg.  From  Henry  Wetherburn,  the  keeper  of  the  Raleigh 
Tavern,  he  leased  a large  house  near  the  Capitol,  known  as  "The  English 
Coffee  House,”  where  he  purposed  to  deal  in  "Coffee,  Tea,  Chocolate, 
Arrack,  Claret,  Madeira  and  other  Wines,  English  Beer,  French  Brandv, 
Rum,  and  several  other  articles,  both  from  Europe,  New  York,  Phila- 
delphia, and  the  West  Indies,  proposing  too  as  mv  house  was  large  and 
in  front  particularly,  to  divide  and  let  it  out  into  several  distinct  Tene- 
ments.” 

From  "The  Narrative  of  George  Fisher,”  published  in  William  and 
Alary  Quarterly,  Series  I,  XVII,  the  following  characterization  and  de- 
scription of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  are  given: 

I entered  on  my  House  the  29th  September  1751;  and  I made  this  alteration 
about  the  Christmas  following,  vizt.  four  months  after.  I had  not  entered  upon 
executing  this  last  Resolution  above  a Fortnight  or  Three  weeks  before  a strange 
Mortal  stalked  into  my  house,  in  the  garb  or  habit  of  one  of  our  Common 
Soldiers  (a  thing  then  rarely  to  be  met  with,  tho’  extremely  it  seems  affected  by 
this  singular  Person  whom  I had  then  not  the  least  knowledge  of)  and  de- 
manded to  see  some  of  my  rooms,  which  he  was  informed  I proposed  to  let. 

He  had  no  servant  with  him,  but  an  arrogant,  hauty  carriage,  which  in  the 
opinion  of  most  men  is  a necessary  or  insepparable  accomplishment  in  what  they 
call  a Person  of  Note,  would  at  once  indicate  to  you  that  in  his  own  thoughts  he 
was  a person  of  no  mean  Rank  or  Dignity.  The  pride  of  sometimes  putting  on 
mean  clothes  or  going  unattended,  I had  seen  before,  but  none  to  appear  to  me 


98 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


so  ridiculously  as  now.  However,  I showed  him  my  rooms,  and  treated  him 
with  the  same  deference  and  respect  as  even  in  his  own  sentiments  he  had  a 
right  to  expect,  supposing  also  I had  known  him.  We  had  some  talk  about  the 
price  of  several  apartments,  but  he  soon  let  me  understand  that  his  design  was 
upon  my  Whole  House,  he  modestly  proposing  that  I should  resign  the  Lease 
I had  taken  of  it  to  him,  and  take  off  from  his  hands  another  house  in  Town 
which  he  had  hired,  but  did  not  like,  tho’  to  evince  his  great  kindness  and 
condescendesion  in  the  matter,  he  assured  me  the  house,  which  he  proposed  to 
favor  me  with,  was  much  better  one  than  mine,  would  come  at  less  rent  and 
would  likewise  suit  my  intended  business  better- -and  he  named  the  house  to 
me ---vizt.  that  Dr.  Dixon  quitted. 

As  to  which  house  was  the  best,  I assured  him  it  was  a matter  that  I would 
not  presume  to  dispute;  but  humbly  craved  his  leave  to  be  of  a different  opinion 
as  to  the  convincing  of  dividing  it  into  various  departments.  Its  vicinity  also  to 
the  Capitol,  I as  I likewise  craved  leave  to  inform  him,  gave  it  the  preference  in 
(my)  humble  apprehension,  as  its  situation  for  business,  on  which  I said 
chiefly  depended;  besides — as  I ventured  to  observe,  the  roominess  of  mine, 
when  Mr.  Wetherburn  had  repaired  it,  would  enable  me  to  let  out  so  much 
thereof  as  would  absolutely  pay  the  whole  of  my  rent,  reserving  what  would  be 
quite  sufficient  to  carry  on  my  own  business.  To  this  he  replied  I was  under  a 
great  mistake  and  delusion  if  I preferred  to  think  Mr.  Wetherburn  would  ever 
repair  the  House  while  I continued  in  it,  or  would  grant  me  any  further  Lease 
when  the  Three  Years  was  expired;  that  he  would  not  have  me  flatter  myself 
with  the  vain  idea  or  reaping  any  of  the  benefits  1 had  proposed;  for  I should 
only  deceive  myself  therein.  The  best  thing  I could  do  was  to  take  his  generous 
offer,  and  that  if  I did  not,  I should  surely  repent  it.  To  all  which  I only  en- 
treated he  would  allow  me  to  suspend  my  thinking  Mr.  Wetherburn  had  any 
intention  of  acting  so  dishonorably  by  me;  and  that  I must  at  least  experience 
somewhat  of  what  he  was  pleased  to  assure  me  should  happen,  before  it  was  in 
my  power  to  believe  it  possible. 

Upon  my  saying  this,  he  turned  immediately  out  of  the  house  seemingly  very 
much  offended.  However  in  less  than  an  hour,  he  sent  his  servant  who  in- 
formed me  it  was  his  master’s  order  that  I should  attend  him  immediately  at 
Mr.  Wetherburn’s  and  on  my  enquiring  of  the  servant,  who  his  master  was,  he 
seemed  surprised  at  my  not  knowing  that  it  was  Col.  Lee,  eldest  Son  and  heir 
to  the  late  President  of  the  Council.  On  my  arrival  at  Mr.  Wetherburn’s  the 
noble  Col.  : with  a haughtiness  peculiar  to  himself  (as  being  in  the  superlative 
degree  to  any  I had  ever  beheld,  even  in  this  Country)  informed  me  that  since 
I refused  to  credit  him  on  the  affair  we  had  been  talking  about,  he  had  sent  for 
me  to  receive  satisfaction  upon  the  subject  from  Mr.  Wetherburn  himself,  and 
closing  the  whole  of  his  genteel  behaviour  with  observing  if  I still  persisted  in 
my  obstinacy  in  refusing  him  my  house,  I might  have  time  to  repent  of  it.  He 
turned  from  me  with  an  air  of  what  they  call  a Gentleman. 

Thus  the  narrative  goes  on  at  some  length,  showing  in  vivid  detail  the 
viewpoint  of  the  Williamsburg  tradesman.  In  the  absence  of  any  account 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


99 


from  the  pen  of  Philip  Ludwell  his  side  of  the  episode  is  not  known. 
The  full  significance  of  the  narrative,  therefore,  cannot  be  determined. 
No  doubt  Philip  was  self-important  and  pompous.  Perhaps  he  felt  that, 
as  head  of  the  House  of  Lee,  his  voice  was  not  to  be  questioned.  At  the 
same  time,  insofar  as  the  management  and  development  of  Stratford 
Plantation  went,  he  evidenced  more  practical  ability  than  any  other 
member  of  the  family. 

The  properties  of  Thomas  Lee  were  widely  scattered,  and  this  fact  may 
account  in  some  degree  for  the  long  period  of  time  taken  by  Philip — at 
least  eight  years — to  have  the  estate  appraised  and  inventories  taken  of 
the  goods  and  furnishings  of  Stratford  Hall.  To  William’s  sharp  com- 
plaints he  wrote: 

I suppose  you  will  hear  from  R.  H.  Lee  that  the  Executors  have  refused  to 
divide  the  estate  ’till  October;  I wonder  you  shd.  not  know  they  wd.  refuse;  by 
the  will  if  the  young  ladies  dye  under  particular  circumstances,  they  get  the 
Estate;  had  I been  concerned  for  that  reason  I wd.  have  made  them  done  it 
instantly.  How  cd.  you  appoint  yr.  two  Brothers,  who  know  nothing  of  survey- 
ing or  good  land  from  bad  and  one  of  the  Executors  who  I have  heard  you 
talk  of  you  know  how,  to  divide  it?  Something  shd.  be  speedily  done  for  the 
Estate,  tho’  fine,  does  not  make  enough  to  bare  the  Expenses  of  it;  I wonder 
you  don’t  come  in  to  see  it  divided  and  to  live  on  it,  if  you  do  not  it  will  always 
bring  you  in  debt,  remember  I tell  you  so. 

Through  the  Court  Orders  of  the  Virginia  Westmoreland  Records 
for  1751-1764  an  accurate  picture  of  the  legal  and  domestic  situation 
of  the  family  is  obtained: 

[July  30,  1752.]  The  Last  Will  and  Testament  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee, 
Esq.  dec’d  was  presented  into  Court  by  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  his  son  and 
heir  at  Law  and  one  of  his  Exors.  therein  named,  who  made  Oath  thereto  and 
being  Written  with  his  own  hand  W riting  and  recorded  sometime  ago,  is  now 
ordered  to  be  Lodged  and  Certificate  granted  to  the  sd.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee 
for  obtaining  a probate  thereof  &c. 

[March  27,  1754.]  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee,  infant  Orphan  of  the  Honble 
Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  dec’d  Came  into  Court  and  chose  Henry  Lee  for  his  Guardian 
and  sd.  Henry  Lee  together  with  Geo.  Lee  his  Security  acknowledged  their 
Bond  for  the  same. 

[March  27,  1754.]  It  is  ordered  that  Andrew  Monroe,  Richard  Jackson,  Peter 
Rust  and  Richard  Lee,  Gents,  or  any  three  of  them  (being  first  sworn)  before 
a Justice  of  the  peace  for  this  County)  do  Appraise  the  Estate  of  Thos.  Lee, 
Esq.  dec’d  and  return  their  proceedings  thereof  to  next  Court. 

[March  27,  1754.]  [It  is]  ordered  that  John  Lee,  Peter  Hogman,  Richard 
Bernard,  Benjamin  Strother  or  any  three  of  them  do  appraise  the  Estate  of 
Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  in  Stafford  County  and  make  report  to  next  Court  held  for  this 
County. 


100 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


[March  27,  1754.]  [It  is]  ordered  that  Lewis  Elzey,  Chas.  Broadwater, 
Anthony  Ruport  and  Hugh  Woot  appraise  Estate  of  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  in  Fairfax 
and  make  report. 

[March  27,  1754.]  Thos.  Ludwell  Lee,  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Esq.  Francis 
Lightfoot  Lee,  by  Henry  Lee  his  Guardian  and  William,  Arthur  and  Alice  Lee, 
Infants  by  the  sd.  Henry  Lee,  their  next  friend  Complaints  vs.  Philip  Ludwell 
Lee,  Esq.  Respondent — In  Chancery.  By  Consent  of  parties  it  is  referred  to 
Richard  Corbin,  Philip  Ludwell,  Esq.  and  George  Lee  to  settle  and  adjust  all 
matters  in  difference  between  the  Contending  parties  as  a decree  of  this  Court. 

[Sept.  24,  1754.]  The  Suit  in  Chancery  brought  by  Thomas  Lee,  Esq.  and 
others  against  Phil.  Ludwell  Lee  Exor.  of  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  dec’d  is  Con'd  for 
Referrees  Report. 

[March  26,  1755.]  Ordered  that  the  Sheriff  do  sumon  Philip  Ludwell  Lee 
Esq.  to  be  and  appear  at  the  next  Court  to  enter  into  Bond  with  Security  for  his 
due  Execution  of  the  Last  Will  and  Testament  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee,  Esq. 
and  to  shew  Cause  why  the  Estate  has  not  been  appraised. 

[May  27,  1755.]  The  order  to  sumon  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  to  enter  into  Bond 
for  the  Exor.  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  Will  &c.  is  Cont’d. 

[May  29,  1755.]  The  Suit  in  Chancery — Thos.  Ludwell  Lee  and  others  vs. 
Phil.  Ludwell  Lee  acting  Exor.  of  the  Last  Will  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee,  Esq. 
dec’d  for  the  Referres  report. 

[June  24,  1755.]  The  order  to  sumon  Phil  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  concerning  the 
Execution  of  the  last  Will  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee  Esq.  is  Con’t. 

[July  30,  1755.]  Thos.  Ludwell  Lee  and  others  by  Henry  Lee  their  Guardian 
and  next  friend  Pltf.  vs.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  acting  Exor.  of  the  Honble 
Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  Deft. — Con’t  for  Report  of  Referees. 

[July  30  1755.]  The  order  to  sumon  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Gent,  concerning 
the  Execution  of  the  Will  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.,  dec’d  (and  also  of  his 
entering  into  Bond  with  Security  for  the  same)  not  having  complyed  with  it  is 
therefore  again  Ordered  that  the  Sheriff  of  this  County  do  sumon  the  sd.  Phil. 
Ludwell  Lee  to  appear  at  next  Court  for  the  same  purpose. 

[Jan.  29,  1756.]  Thos.  Lud.  Lee  and  others  vs.  Phil . Lud.  Lee  Exor  of  Thos. 
Lee,  Esq.  Chancery — Cont’d. 

[Feb  26,  1757.]  The  Summons  against  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  to  give  Security 
for  the  Execution  of  the  Will  of  the  Honble.  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  is  dismissed. 

[Aug.  29,  1758.]  An  Inventory  and  Appraisement  of  the  Estate  of  the  Honble 
Thomas  Lee,  Esq.  in  Westmoreland  County  was  returned  into  Court  and 
ordered  to  be  Recorded. 

[June  26,  1759.]  Thos.  Ludwell  Lee,  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Esq.  Francis  Light- 
foot  Lee  an  Infant  by  Henry  Lee,  Gent,  his  Guardian,  William  Lee,  Arthur  Lee 
and  Miss  Alice  Lee  Infants  by  sd.  Henry  Lee  their  next  Friend  agt.  Philip 
Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  acting  Exor.  of  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  Dec’d — Chancery — Cont’d. 

[May  27,  1760.]  A Power  of  Attorney  passed  from  Alice  Lee  to  William 
Lee,  Gent. — proved  by  the  oath  of  James  Russell  and  Ann  Hartly.  An  Instru- 
ment of  Writing  from  Alice  Lee  to  William  Lee,  Gent,  was  proved  by  Jas. 
Russell  and  Ann  Hartly. 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


101 


[Aug.  25,  1761.]  Inventory  of  the  Estate  of  the  Honble  Thos.  Lee,  Esq. 
Dec’d  in  Loudon  County  returned  and  recorded. 

[Aug.  26,  1761. J The  Suit  in  Chancery  commenced  by  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  and 
others  agt.  The  Honorable  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  Exor  of  Thos  Lee,  Esq.  is 
Cont’d 

[Mch.  29,  1764.]  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  and  others  agt.  The  honble  Philip  Ludwell 
Lee,  Esq.  Exor.  &c.  of  Thos.  Lee,  Esq.  dec’d — In  Chancery — Cont’d  until  the 
next  Court  by  Consent  of  the  parties. 

[May  29,  1764.  | The  Presentment  of  the  Grand  Jury  agt.  the  Honble  Philip 
Lee,  Esq.  for  reasons  appearing  to  the  Court  is  dismist. 

Because  of  the  discord  and  the  incessant  litigation  within  the  family 
it  is  not  strange  that  Alice  Lee  at  length  determined  to  give  up,  for  a 
small  stipulated  sum,  her  right  and  title  to  the  property  and  legacies 
willed  her  by  her  father  and  leave  Stratford  to  live  in  England.  The 
first  item  recording  her  decision  is  in  the  inventories  and  accounts  book 
of  the  Westmoreland  Record,  Page  115,  as  follows: 

Know  all  men  by  these  Present  that  I Alice  Lee  of  the  County  of  Westmore- 
land and  Colony  of  Virginia  do  give  grant  assign  and  make  over  to  Mr.  William 
Lee  of  the  aforesaid  County  and  Colony  all  my  right  and  title  to  and  Property 
in  all  the  Legacies  left  me  by  my  father  the  Late  Honble  Thomas  Lee  in  his 
Last  will  and  all  my  Estate  Possession  Properties  and  Effects  that  I now  have  or 
hereafter  may  have  in  this  Colony  to  him  the  said  William  Lee  and  his  heirs 
forever  in  Consideration  of  forty  pounds  Sterling  to  be  paid  me  or  my  order 
annually  from  the  date  hereof  in  London,  during  my  natural  Life  and  no 
Longer.  In  Witness  whereof  I have  hereunto  set  my  hand  and  seal  this  third 
day  of  March  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  one  thousand  seven  hundred  and  sixty. 

Signed:  Alice  Lee. 

Signed  sealed  and  acknowledged  in  Presence  of  James  Russell,  Philip  Barnett, 
Ann  Hartlee,  Elizabeth  Russell. 

At  a Court  held  for  the  said  County  the  27th  day  of  May  1760.  This  Instru- 
ment of  Writing  Passed  from  Miss  Alice  Lee  to  William  Lee  Gent,  was  Proved 
by  the  oaths  of  James  Russell  and  Ann  Hartlee  two  of  the  Witnesses  thereto 
and  ordered  to  be  recorded.  Recorded  the  30th  day  of  June  1760. 

Arthur  Lee  and  his  brother  William  spent  much  of  their  lives  abroad 
and  some  of  their  most  important  activities  were  devoted  to  the  welfare 
of  the  young  republic.  They  were  to  labor  "in  the  vineyard  of  liberty” 
across  the  seas,  yet  hand  in  hand  with  their  brothers  of  Stratford— 
Thomas  Ludwell,  Richard  Henry,  and  Francis  Lightfoot. 

3 

The  Great  House,  presided  over  bv  Philip  Lee,  remained  "bachelor’s 
hall”  until  the  late  seventeen-fifties.  Then  the  marriages  of  the  Strat- 
ford Lees  began  to  take  place.  Thomas,  who  had  left  Stratford  some- 


102  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

time  before  to  settle  in  Stafford  County,  married  Mary  Aylett  of  King 
William  County.  According  to  Lee  of  Virginia  the  Ayletts  were  an 
ancient  family  of  England  claiming  descent  from  a companion  of  the 
Conqueror,  whose  sons  obtained  grants  of  land  in  Cornwall:  "In  1656, 
it  is  said,  a Captain  John  Aylett  emigrated  from  Essex  County,  England, 
to  Virginia,  and  later  took  up  large  tracts  of  land  in  the  present  county 
of  King  William.  This  Captain  Aylett  left  a son,  Philip,  who  settled 
in  King  William  in  1686;  he  was  succeeded  by  his  son  William,  who 
represented  that  county  as  Burgess  in  1723-26." 

Thomas  Ludwell  Lee  was  termed  by  Chancellor  Wythe,  "the  most 
popular  man  in  Virginia,  and  the  delight  of  the  eyes  of  every  Virginian, 
but  . . . would  not  engage  in  public  life."  He  was,  however,  at  all 
times  an  ardent  patriot  and  was  united  with  his  younger  brothers  in 
practically  every  measure  they  advocated  in  support  of  the  colonies 
against  the  tyranny  of  Great  Britain. 

Richard  Henry  also  married  into  the  Aylett  family.  His  marriage  to 
Anne,  sister  of  Mary  Aylett,  took  place  in  1757  and  he  brought  his  bride 
to  Stratford,  where  they  lived  for  several  years  until  their  new  home  was 
completed.  In  1762  Alice  Lee  was  married  in  London  to  Dr.  William 
Shippen,  Junior,  of  Philadelphia. 

Meanwhile  Philip  Lee,  master  of  Stratford,  married.  His  bride  was 
Elizabeth  Steptoe  of  Westmoreland,  a young  girl,  gracious,  accom- 
plished, and  very  lovely.  She  was  the  daughter  of  Dr.  James  Steptoe, 
member  of  a prominent  family  of  planters  established  in  the  Northern 
Neck  from  the  middle  seventeenth  century.  When  Dr.  Steptoe  died 
in  1756,  he  appointed  Colonel  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  guardian  of  his 
daughter  Elizabeth.  Shortly  afterward  Philip  married  his  ward.  With 
the  coming  of  a daughter  of  the  Steptoe  family  to  be  the  second  mistress 
of  Stratford  Hall,  its  household  affairs  were  reorganized  on  a new  and 
harmonious  basis,  and  it  became  once  more  a social  center  for  the  neigh- 
borhood. According  to  Westmoreland  tradition,  Elizabeth  Steptoe  Lee 
was  exceedingly  fond  of  social  life;  and,  being  many  years  her  husband’s 
junior,  she  brought  to  Stratford  a new  element  of  youth,  gaiety  and 
charm. 

The  house  built  by  Richard  Henry  Lee  was  on  a part  of  Stratford 
Plantation  which  bordered  the  river.  In  1763  he  leased  from  Philip  five- 
hundred  acres,  including  the  mills  and  the  wooded  bluffs  below  Strat- 
ford Landing.  This  series  of  high  perpendicular  cliffs  was  then  known 
as  Hollis  Cliffs  and  later  as  the  Cliffs  of  Nominy.  According  to  the  Rev. 


104  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

George  W.  Beale,  Richard  Henry  Lee  erected  "a  handsome  and  com- 
modious wooden  mansion”  here  on  a circular  eminence  overlooking  the 
Potomac — a retired  and  beautiful  spot  three  miles  or  so  distant  from  the 
Great  House.  A narrow,  densely  shaded  road  wound  through  the  deep 
woods  to  this  new  home. 

"The  approach  . . . was  through  a level  plain  of  light,  sandy  soil 
of  varying  width,  here  broad  and  there  narrow,  as  two  deep,  winding 
ravines  on  either  hand  approached,  or  receded  from  each  other,  the  edges 
of  these  deep-wooded  hollows  at  one  or  two  points  being  so  near  to- 
gether as  to  barely  leave  space  between  for  the  roadway.  The  rounding 
elevation  on  which  the  house  was  built  was  bounded  on  two  sides  bv 
these  deep  ravines,  and  towards  the  north  by  a steep  declivity,  which 
fell  abruptly  to  the  level  of  the  tide.  It  commanded  a noble  and  en- 
chanting view  of  field  and  forest,  green  meadows  and  winding  stream, 
of  the  long  arm  of  Hollis’s  marsh,  encircling  in  part  Curri[o]man  bay, 
and  beyond,  the  Potomac  spreading  for  six  miles  to  the  Maryland  shore. 
. . . Mr.  Lee  completed  his  building  here  about  the  time  that  the  young 
Prince  of  Conde,  in  the  interval  of  rest  from  warlike  engagements,  was 
making  his  seat  near  Paris  the  most  noted  literary  centre  in  Europe. 
Richard  Henry  Lee  named  his  home  Chantilly  after  that  famous  cha- 
teau. ...” 

The  Virginia  Chantilly  was,  however,  the  very  heart  of  solitude.  Wil- 
derness itself — cliffs  and  woods  and  encompassing  waters — it  bore  not 
the  slightest  physical  resemblance  to  Chantilly  of  France.  Yet,  like  that 
noble  French  chateau,  it  became  a place  where  men  could  meet  and  new 
ideas  find  root.  Richard  Henry  and  Anne  Aylett  Lee  went  to  live  there 
early  in  the  seventeen-sixties.  This  section  of  the  Stratford  estate  became 
henceforth  the  scene  of  Richard  Henry’s  studies,  of  his  correspondence, 
and  of  much  of  his  political  activity. 

His  arrangement  with  Philip  was  for  a long-term  lease  of  Chantilly, 
the  details  being  as  follows:  "Lease  between  Hon.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee 
and  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Esq.  500  Acres  lying  in  Cople  parish  between 
the  land  of  Maj.  Thomas  Chilton  and  the  Hallow’s  marsh  plantation  be- 
longing to  the  said  Philip  Ludwell  Lee — Northeast  side  of  a marsh 
which  Marsh  is  on  the  Northwest  side  of  the  HOUSE  built  by  sd.  Rich- 
ard Henry  Lee — including  500  Acres  of  land  with  all  houses,  Buildings, 
vards,  gardens,  Orchards,  Woods,  water,  water  courses  &c. — to  said 
Richard  Henry  Lee  and  Ann  his  wife  and  Ludwell  Lee  son  of  said  Rich- 
ard Henry  Lee  during  the  life  and  lives  of  the  longer  liver  of  them — for 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


105 


the  yearly  rent  of  2650  lbs.  of  Tobacco — said  Richard  Henrv  Lee  to  pav 
all  rents  and  quit  rents  and  make  needful  reparations — said  Philip  Lud- 
well  Lee  claims  right  to  enter  said  premises  at  any  time  to  view  and  give 
monition  to  repair  and  amends  to  said  premises  &c. 

"Recorded  Feb.  22,  1763. 

"Wit:  John  Washington,  James  Davenport,  Anthony  Stewart.”' 

Chantilly  is  described  in  a letter  written  September  29,  1790,  bv 
Thomas  Lee  Shippen  to  his  parents  in  Philadelphia: 

Chantilly  . . . commands  a much  finer  view  than  Stratford  by  reason  of  a large 
bay  into  which  the  Patowmac  forms  itself  opposite,...  and  a charming  little  creek 
whose  windings  spread  across  and  water  the  space  which  lies  between  Chantilly 
and  the  river.  Besides  these,  a fine  island  called  Blackstone’s  adds  a finish  to 
the  landscape.  At  Chantilly  you  have  every  thing  that  is  most  excellent  in  fish 
crabs  wild  fowl  and  exquisite  meats — the  best  of  liquors — and  a most  hearty 
welcome.  The  house  is  rather  commodious  than  elegant.  The  setting  room 
which  is  very  well  ornamented  is  30  feet  by  18  and  the  dining  room  24  feet  by 
20.  My  uncle  has  a charming  little  daughter  whom  you  remember  he  mentioned 
to  us — his  little  beauty.  Her  name  is  Sally  and  she  is  every  thing  her  friends 
could  wish.  The  pleasure  which  so  many  agreable  circumstances  necessarily 
afforded  us  at  Chantilly  were  not  a little  interrupted  by  the  extreme  indisposition 
of  the  family — Excepting  Sally  there  was  not  one  of  them  perfectly  well.  You 
were  very  frequently  mentioned  & wished  for.  We  never  sat  down  to  a fine 
rock  fish,  soft  crab  or  wild  duck  without  my  uncle  R’s  wishing  for  vou  to  par- 
take of  it.  His  wishes  were  those  of  the  table.  The  soft  crabs  are  to  be  sure 
most  delicious.3 

Speaking  of  Chantilly,  Edmund  Jennings  Lee  says:  "From  the  inven- 
tory and  appraisement  of  the  furniture,  etc.,  it  is  learned  that  there  were 
a dining-room,  library,  parlor,  and  chamber  on  the  first  floor.  The  hall 
being,  as  was  usual,  furnished  as  a sitting-room,  contained:  a mahogany 
desk,  twelve  arm  chairs,  a round  and  a square  table,  a covered  walnut 
table,  two  boxes  of  tools,  and  a trumpet.  On  the  second  floor  there  were 
four  large  chambers,  and  a smaller  one  at  the  head  of  stairs;  two  rooms  in 
third  floor;  store  rooms,  and  closets.  The  out  buildings  mentioned  were: 
kitchen,  dairy,  blacksmith  shop,  stable,  and  barn.  The  enumeration  of 
the  books  in  the  library  showed  about  500  separate  works,  on  science, 
history,  politics,  medicine,  farming,  etc.,  etc.,  which  were  appraised 
at  £229  10s.  7d.” 

This  description  of  the  books  at  Chantilly  is  supplemented  by  Dr. 
Beale:  "The  library  here  was  an  extensive  one,  and  had  been  selected 

'Supplementary  Records.  Y : Chantilly. 

“Original  letter.  September  29.  1790.  from  Thomas  Lee  Shippen  to  his  father.  Shippen 
Papers.  Library  of  Congress. 


106  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

with  much  care.  Many  of  the  volumes  were  bound  in  rich  and  costly 
style,  a few  of  which,  bearing  Mr.  Lee’s  autograph,  are  still  treasured  in 
Westmoreland,  the  last  remaining  souvenirs  of  Chantilly.” 

He  gives  further  an  interesting  account  of  the  wild  life  in  this  lower 
Potomac  region,  of  which  Stratford  Plantation,  with  its  6,500  acres, 
formed  so  large  a part:  "From  the  grounds  surrounding  the  mansion 
there  extended  up  and  down  the  river  shore  and  inland,  for  miles  con- 
tinuous stretches  of  forest,  abounding  in  deer,  wild  turkeys,  and  foxes, 
which  invited  and  cheered  the  huntsman’s  chase.  The  waters,  towards 
which  the  north  windows  of  the  building  opened,  swarmed  through 
the  winter  months  with  wild  geese,  and  ducks  of  many  and  choice  varie- 
ties. For  hunting  these  Mr.  Lee  had  a fondness,  and  bore  through  the 
most  of  his  life  a mark  of  it  in  a disabled  and  disfigured  hand,  caused 
by  the  bursting  of  his  gun.” 

A picture  of  this  nesting  place  of  eagles,  and  the  "water-pastures”  of 
the  swans  is  drawn  by  Charles  Carter  Lee  (son  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee, 
who  was  born  at  Stratford  a generation  later),  in  his  very  original 
verse,  Virginia  Georgies: 

Oh!  I have  seen  where  broad  Potomac  lifts, 

In  Westmoreland,  its  surges  ’gainst  its  cliffs, 

From  those  high  bluffs,  where  such  great  men  were  born, 

The  birth-place  of  the  greater  Washington: 

There  rush  the  sea-urged  billows  rest  to  seek 
Through  the  shallow,  narrow  entrance  of  Pope’s  Creek, 

And  spread  in  peace,  all  hushed  their  troubled  roar, 

Before  the  ancient  Washingtonian  door: 

There  the  calm  shores  an  ample  peaceful  bed 
For  the  tossed  surges  of  the  river  spread, — 

And  water-fowl  of  every  exquisite  kind 
In  its  clear  shallows  plenteous  feeding  find, 

And  on  the  river  flats,  outside  the  Creek, 

The  glorious  swans  their  water-pastures  seek; 

And  on  the  aged  trees,  by  cliff  and  bay, 

The  eagles  watch  to  strike  their  feathered  prey. 

I’ve  seen,  when  hunting  crowned  my  youthful  glee, 

As  many  as  seven  on  a single  tree  . . . 

i i i i 

Late  in  the  winter  of  1768,  Mary  Aylett  Lee,  the  young  wife  of  Rich- 
ard Henry,  died  at  Chantilly.  She  was  buried  in  Burnt  House  Fields 
and  a monument  to  her  memory  was  placed  in  the  church  near  Chan- 
tilly. A description  of  "my  dear  Mrs.  Lee’s  monument  in  Nominy 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


107 


Church”  with  a copy  of  the  inscription  on  the  tablet  was  found  by 
Edmund  Jennings  Lee  in  a manuscript  in  Richard  Henry’s  handwriting: 
Sacred  to  the  Memory  of  Mrs.  Anne  Lee,  wife  of  Col.  Richard  H Lee.  This 
monument  was  erected  by  her  afflicted  husband,  in  the  year  1769. 

Reflect  dear  reader  on  the  great  uncertainty  of  human  life,  since  neither 
esteemed  temperament  nor  the  most  amiable  goodness  could  save  this  excel- 
lent Lady  from  death  in  the  bloom  of  Life.  She  left  behind  her  four  children, 
two  sons  and  two  daughters,  Obiit  12th  December,  1768,  aet.  30. 

'Was  then  so  precious  a flower 
But  given  us  to  behold  it  waste, 

The  short  lived  blossom  of  an  hour, 

Too  nice,  too  fair,  too  sweet  to  last.” 

i i i i 

Colonel  John  Tayloe  of  Mount  Airy,  member  of  the  King’s  Council, 
was  one  of  the  group  of  large  planters  who  invariably  spent  "the  season” 
at  Williamsburg  with  his  family.  His  wife  was  Rebecca  Plater,  daughter 
of  Governor  George  Plater  of  Maryland.  Each  one  of  their  eight  daugh- 
ters was  a belle  of  the  little  capital  city.  Rebecca,  or  "Becky”  as  she  was 
called,  the  second  daughter,  named  for  her  mother,  was  singularly  lov- 
able and  attractive.  She  was  sixteen  vears  old  when  Francis  Lightfoot 
Lee,  then  Burgess  from  Loudoun  County,  fell  in  love  with  her. 

The  Tayloe  family,  like  the  Lees,  Corbins,  Fitzhughs,  Steptoes,  Av- 
letts,  and  others,  had  been  established  in  the  Colony  since  the  middle  of 
the  seventeenth  century.  The  founder  of  the  family,  William  Tayloe, 
came  from  England.  Through  his  marriage  to  Anne  Corbin,  daughter 
of  Henry  Corbin,  the  family  was  connected  with  the  Lees.  Like  Strat- 
ford, Nominy,  Peckatone,  Marmion,  Bushfield,  and  Sabine  Hall,  the 
Tayloe  home,  Mount  Airy  on  the  Rappahannock,  was  one  of  the  im- 
portant houses  of  the  Northern  Neck.  Built  almost  a generation  later 
than  Stratford,  it  has  a certain  grace  of  architecture,  a sophisticated 
character  peculiar  to  itself.  It  is  the  dream  of  an  eighteenth  century  poet. 
No  house  more  graceful  or  more  beautiful  was  built  in  Virginia  or  in 
any  one  of  the  colonies,  nor  ever  stood  on  a lovelier  or  more  peaceful 
site — a gentle  English  scene  of  park  and  fields  and  undulating  hills,  and 
beyond,  the  river  softly  flowing  like  the  Thames  in  Spenser’s  song. 
Fithian,  who  knew  the  house  well,  speaks  of  it  in  his  journal: 

. . . He  [Councillor  Carter]  has  given  Ben  and  me  an  Invitation  to  ride  out 
and  spend  this  Evening  with  him  at  Colonel  Tayloe’ s.  We  set  out  about  three; 
Mr.  Carter  travels  in  a small,  neat  Chair , with  two  waiting  Men.  We  rode 
across  the  Country  which  is  now  in  full  Bloom;  in  every  field  we  saw  Negroes 
planting  Corn,  or  plowing,  or  hoeing;  we  arrived  at  the  Colonels  about  five, 


108  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Distance  twelve  miles.  Here  is  an  elegant  Seat!  The  House  is  about  the  Size 
of  Mr.  Carters,  built  with  stone,  and  finished  curiously,  and  ornamented  with 
various  paintings,  and  rich  Pictures.  This  Gentleman  owns  Yorick,  who  won 
the  prize  of  500£  last  November,  from  Dr.  Floods  Horse  Gift.  In  the  Dining- 
Room,  besides  many  other  fine  Pieces,  are  twenty  four  of  the  most  celebrated 
among  the  English  Race-Horses,  Drawn  masterly,  and  set  in  elegant  gilt  Frames. 
He  has  near  the  great  House,  two  f ? ] stone  Houses,  the  one  is  used  as  a 
Kitchen,  and  the  other,  for  a nursery,  and  Lodging  Rooms  . . . 

In  the  spring  of  1769,  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  married  Becky  Tayloe. 
He  was  thirty-five,  she  seventeen.  Becky  was  so  beloved  by  her  father  that 
he  could  not  see  her  settling  down  in  far-off  Loudoun  County.  He  gave 
her  and  his  son-in-law  a wedding  gift  of  a large  portion  of  Mount  Airy 
Plantation  and  built  a manor  house  for  them.  It  was  a house  small, 
compact,  exquisite  in  its  general  design  and  in  its  interior  detail. 

The  land  embraced  the  Menokin  hills  through  which  wound  Menokin 
Creek.  The  house  took  the  Indian  name  of  its  locality  and  has  been 
known  since  the  time  it  was  finished — 1769 — as  Menokin  House.  A 
description  of  the  place  was  written  in  the  eighteen-eighties  by  G.  W. 
Beale: 

Menokin  House  is  situated  on  the  hills  above  the  creek  of  that  name,  in 
Richmond  county,  and  commands  an  extended  view  of  the  low  lying  plane  and 
marshes  stretching  away  to  the  Rappahannock  river.  . . . Beyond  the  formid- 
able Menokin  Mill  hills,  . . . the  gate  admits  to  a private  road,  which  skirts 
several  fields  and  terminates  at  the  house,  which  is  half  a mile  or  more  distant 
from  the  gate  . . . 

The  building  . . . is  a massive  quadrangular  structure  of  native  red  sand- 
stone in  an  excellent  state  of  preservation.  It  is  marked  by  the  ponderous 
chimneys,  immense  hall,  and  wainscoting  so  common  in  Colonial  edifices.  Its 
erection  marks  the  transitional  stage  of  Colonial  architecture  . . . yet  showing 
more  solidity  and  durability  of  construction  than  was  commonly  true  of  houses 
erected  after  the  Revolution. 

There  was  apparently  widespread  interest  in  the  romance  of  Beckv 
Tayloe  and  Frank  Lee.  Undoubtedly  Frank  had  been  "the  catch  of  Wil- 
liamsburg,” yet  had  remained  so  long  a bachelor  that  he  had  been  des- 
ignated as  "not  the  marrying  kind.”  Certainly  Rebecca  Tayloe  was  the 
little  princess  of  the  capital  city  of  the  Colony  as  well  as  of  Mount  Airy. 
Frank  worshipped  her.  The  two  were  so  happy  that  their  whole  world 
rejoiced  with  them.  President  Nelson  of  the  Council  wrote  to  Arthur 
Lee  in  London,  March  31,  1769:  "No  doubt  you  have  heard  of  the  hap- 
piness of  your  brother  Frank  and  Miss  Becky.” 

With  his  return  to  the  Northern  Neck  of  Virginia  after  his  marriage, 
Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  represented  Richmond  County  as  Burgess.  From 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


109 


Menokin,  he  went  as  a delegate  to  the  Continental  Congress.  Devoted 
to  his  home,  he  was  never  happy  when  long  away  from  it.  Like  his 
father,  he  was  a horticulturist,  and  established  at  Menokin  a nursery 
where  he  experimented  with  all  sorts  of  trees,  plants,  fruits,  and  flowers, 
as  Thomas  Lee  had  done  at  Stratford. 

From  the  references  in  the  Lee  family  letters  a state  of  happiness 
ideal  in  its  sincerity,  simplicity,  and  beauty  existed  at  Menokin  House 
and  in  the  lives  of  Frank  and  Becky  Lee.  In  a letter  to  his  father  dated 
September  29,  1790,  Thomas  Lee  Shippen  writes  of  Menokin: 

I find  my  uncle  & aunt  Frank  as  happily  situated  as  it  is  possible  in  this  world 
to  be  except  their  want  of  society  which  they  have  in  themselves  only — They 
are  prodigiously  kind  to  me  & to  poor  Baptist  wrho  has  the  fever  and  ague — I 
have  escaped  only  by  taking  a dose  of  bark  every  day — My  aunt  is  both  Baptist’s 
nurse  & mine.  She  often  talks  of  you  & Phib  What  a favorite  you  are  in  Vir- 
ginia— attribute  it  not  to  flattery  when  I say  what  I really  think  that  you  ought 
to  be  so  ev[e]ry  where.  God  bless  you  my  dear  father. 

Thomas  Shippen’s  sister,  Nancy  Livingston,  was  particularly  devoted 
to  her  uncle  Frank,  and,  shortly  after  her  marriage,  wrote  an  affectionate 
sonnet  to  him: 

Thou  sweetest  of  all  the  Lee  race 
That  ever  adorned  our  shore, 

O with  us  do  fix  thine  abode 

And  leave  Philadelphia  no  more. 

Thy  temper’s  as  soft  as  the  dove’s 
When  she  warbles  aloft  in  the  air, 

And  thy  converse  enchantingly  sweet 

When  engaged  in  discourse  with  the  fair. 

But  when  learning  engrosses  thy  thought 
Then  thy  genius  shines  brighter  and  best 
And  shews  that  thou  surely  wilt  be 
An  adornment  to  all  in  the  West. 

O that  thou  mayest  chuse  but  to  live 

Where  I thy  sweet  friendship  may  prove 
It  will  smooth  the  remains  of  my  life 
Until  I shall  meet  thee  above. 

And  there  if  our  happy  lot’s  cast 
In  those  blessed  regions  to  stay, 

No  gloomy  dark  night  shall  we  know 
But  one  clear  and  bright,  perfect  day. 

A H S Livingston 

Sonnet  addressed  to  Mr  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  of  Virginia 

by  A.  H.  S.  L. 

During  the  latter  years  of  the  Revolution  when  it  was  not  practicable 


110  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

for  her  to  be  with  her  husband,  Becky  Lee  frequently  took  refuge  at  Strat- 
ford from  alarms  and  excursions.  A letter  addressed  there  by  her 
husband  is  among  Lee  records  in  the  Pennsylvania  Historical  Society: 

Richmond  Dec.  2 
1780 

My  dearest  Becky: 

This  day  I rec’d  your  letter  from  S.[tratford]  Hall  by  Capt.  Ball.  Glad  to 
find  you  have  recovered  from  your  panic.  Indeed  it  surprises  me  that  you 
should  be  so  easily  frightened  who  have  been  so  much  accustomed  to  alarms 
much  more  serious  than  any  we  have  here.  Those  who  live  at  the  mouths  of  the 
Rivers  or  on  the  banks  of  the  broad  waters  are  certainly  in  great  danger  of 
losing  their  property  by  the  enemy’s  privateers  but  I hope  something  will  soon 
be  done  for  their  relief.  It  is  true  Col.  Fitzhugh  and  [illegible]  houses  are 
burnt  [Col]  Burwell  plundered  by  the  enemy.  The  Assembly  breaks  up  at  Xmas. 
I intend  to  try  for  leave  of  absence  if  obtained  you  my  depend  upon  my  being 
very  speedily  with  you, — however  don’t  be  too  sanguine  and  fatigue  yourself 
with  looking  up  the  Road,  be  assured  that  every  inducement  will  hurry  me  on 
and  the  less  expected  my  arrival  perhaps  the  more  agreeable  it  will  be.  God 
bless  you  my  love.4 

Edmund  Jennings  Lee  preserves  a letter  from  Frank  to  his  beloved 
Becky  which  gives  a particularly  vivid  picture  of  the  times  and  condi- 
tions under  which  they  were  living  during  1780.  It  also  expresses  the 
sweetness  and  charm  of  their  relationship: 

Richmond,  13  Nov.,  1780.  My  Dearest  Love:  I,  this  moment,  had  the  pleas- 
ure of  your  letter  by  Jupiter.  You  are  wrong  indeed  my  Love,  to  confine  your- 
self so  much  at  home.  I beg  you  will  endeavour  to  amuse  yourself,  so  much 
anxiety  and  gloomishness  is  enough  to  give  you  a headache,  which  for  my 
sake  pray  avoid;  for  nothing  can  compensate  to  me,  for  your  want  of  health. 
Sutton’s  behaviour  vexes  me  much;  I cannot  conceive  what  the  fellow  can  mean. 
I now  write  to  him.  The  small  quantity  of  peas  really  surprises  me,  there  were 
several  bushels  in  the  field  when  I left  home;  they  have  certainly  let  the  fowls 
and  other  things  eat  them  up.  As  Garland  cannot  supply  oil  for  the  leather, 
tallow,  with  a very  little  butter,  will  answer  the  purpose;  please  to  weigh  what 
you  furnish  that  I may  know  whether  it  is  properly  used.  Your  supply  of  cash, 
gave  me  pleasure,  as  it  was  one  more  instance,  added  to  thousands,  of  your 
affection;  but  upon  the  whole  I could  not  help  being  a little  angry  at  your  having 
disfurnished  yourself;  small  as  it  was  it  might  have  been  of  some  little  use  to 
you,  here  it  is  as  a drop  in  the  ocean?  Indeed,  my  dear,  you  must  not  suppose 
that  I can  have  any  enjoyment  in  which  you  have  not  a share. 

Mr.  Joe  Jones,  R.  H.  L.  and  myself  are  in  pretty  good  lodgings.  Mr.  Page  left 
us  a few  days  agoe,  having  received  advice  that  his  father,  who  had  got  home, 
was  in  a very  dangerous  way.  I suppose  he  will  not  return.  I am  now  well,  the 


“This  letter  has  not  been  collated  with  the  original. 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OE  STRATFORD 


111 


cold  in  my  head  being  nearly  gone.  There  is  no  prospect  of  the  Assembly 
rising  till  Christmas,  but  you  may  be  assured  I will  get  off  as  soon  as  possible. 
1 cannot  say  at  present  when  that  may  be,  for  we  have  not  yet  a senate;  but  1 
hope  we  shall  soon  have  some  members  to  spare.  As  soon  as  I see  a prospect  I 
will  inform  you  of  it.  In  the  meantime,  let  me  again  entreat  you  to  fall  upon 
some  method  of  deverting  yourself,  either  by  going  abroad  or  inviting  others 
to  join  you  at  Menokin,  or  both. 

We  have  nothing  new  since  my  last;  by  the  motion  of  the  Enemy  below,  it 
looks  as  if  they  meant  to  winter  there;  in  which  case,  they  will  give  us  a good 
deal  of  trouble;  but  at  the  same  time  they  give  us  an  opening  for  a good  stroke 
in  our  favour,  if  the  French  force  should  come  upon  our  coast,  which  is  not  im- 
probable. Love  to  Miss  Sally  and  other  friends,  I am  dearest  Becky  your  ever 
affectionate,  etc. 

P.  S. — The  milch  cows  will  have  the  fresh  gathered  corn-fields  to  run  in, 
where  I expect  they  will  have  plenty  of  good  food;  therefore  it  will  be  better  not 
to  stall  them  yet,  as  we  have  a long  winter  to  go  thro. 

Coincident  with  the  marriage  of  Frank  Lee  and  Becky  Tayloe  was 
that  of  William  Lee  and  his  first  cousin,  Hannah  Philippa  Ludwell. 
Their  wedding  took  place  in  1769  in  London,  where  William  had  been 
living  for  three  years. 

Hannah  Philippa  Ludwell  was  the  elder  of  the  two  daughters  of 
Frances  Grymes  and  the  third  Philip  Ludwell,  brother  of  Hannah  Lud- 
well Lee.  She  was  born  and  reared  at  Green  Spring.  After  her  mother’s 
death,  about  1758,  her  father  left  their  home  in  Virginia  and  established 
his  family  in  London.  There  Alice  Lee  visited  them,  and  doubtless 
made  her  home  with  them  until  her  marriage  to  William  Shippen,  Jr. 
Their  house  must  also  have  been  a temporary  home  for  Arthur  Lee  and 
a stopping  place  for  William  in  his  many  voyages  between  England 
and  Virginia  before  he  settled  in  England  with  a view  to  making  his 
stay  permanent. 

William  gave  the  first  news  of  his  wedding  on  March  20,  1769,  to 
"Squire”  Lee  of  Lee  Hall: 

Having  wrote  you  so  lately  I have  little  new[s]  now,  only  to  acknowledge 
the  rec.t  of  your  obliging  favor  of  Jan.  17  last  for  which  I thank  you  I hope  to 
hear  from  you  by  every  op-ty  [ ? ] not  impossible,  as  news  flys  so  quick, 
but  you  may  hear  of  my  being  marryed  to  Miss  Ludwell,  before  this  gets  to 
hand,  but  sh.d  you  not,  you  are  to  know  that  we  were  fairly  united  by  the  matri- 
monial noose  on  the  7.th  inst.  & by  the  next  advice  I expect  to  hear  you  have 
played  the  same  Game  with  Miss  I. 

As  we  design  to  live  here,  I am  fixed  in  my  dfetermijnation  to  pursue  the 
Tob.°  business,  if  I find  encouragement  from  my  Friends  on  y.r  side  [of  the] 
Atlantic,  & upon  the  terms  I formerly  wrote  The  business  of  my  relations  alone 
if  they  wi[li]  join  in  the  scheme,  wou’d  be  sufficient  for  me  . . . 


112  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

In  his  letter  to  Frank  congratulating  him  upon  his  marriage  to  Becky 
Tayloe,  Arthur  Lee  also  speaks  of  William’s  wedding: 

My  dear  Brother  . . . May  I give  you  joy  as  I do  our  Brother  William  who 
has  changed  his  voyage  to  India  in  the  Princess  of  Wales  into  one  to  the  land  of 
matrimony  in  the  Miss  Ludwell.  As  a warm  climate  suits  not  with  him  I hope 
he  will  find  a temperate  one  in  the  place  of  his  destination.  The  Esquire  writes 
him  of  your  being  no  longer  a member  of  the  Assembly.  How  immoderately 
lazy  you  are! 

I have  sent  all  his  political  pamphlets  worth  reading  to  Richard  Henrv  which 
I suppose  you  will  read.5 

Philip  Lee  sent  rather  wry-faced  congratulations,  and  broke  the  long 
silence  between  himself  and  William  with  a broadside  of  family  and 
neighborhood  news  and  gossip,  declaring  what  "a  marrying  year”  1769 
had  been! 

Dear  Brother:  Though  you  wd.  not  write  me  of  your  good  tidings  amongst 
others  you  wrote,  yet  I shall  be  amongst  the  first  to  wish  you  joy  very  heartily; 
one  of  the  most  amiable  women  in  the  world  you  have  possession  of  and  I hope 
and  Don't  doubt  you  will  do  everything  in  yr.  power  to  make  her  as  happy  as 
mortals  can  be,  in  gratefull  return  . . . 

Mrs.  Lee  and  Matilda  wish  you  joy.  I enclose  a letter  from  Miss  Galloway. 
Our  Bro:  Franc:  Lee  was  married  to  Miss  Rebec:  Tayloe  last  Thursday:  to- 
morrow Patty  Corbin  and  Geo:  Turberville  are  to  be  married;  Davenport  is 
married  to  Miss  Ransdell,  Miss  Betty  Washington  to  Alex’r  Spotswood,  Nancy 
Washington  to  Burdet  Ashton,  Miss  Cate  Vaulx  to  young  Banhead,  Thos. 
Turner  to  Miss  Jane  Fauntleroy,  Dr.  Fauntleroy  of  Leeds  to  Miss  Fauntleroy 
of  Essex,  Landon  Carter,  son  of  old  Charles,  is  to  be  married  in  a little  while 
to  Miss  Molly  Fauntleroy  of  Naylor’s  Hole;  Merriwether  Smith  is  to  marry  in 
a few  days  Miss  Daingerfield  of  Essex  with  £1,500  fortune;  Widow  Rust  at 
Rust's  Ferry  to  Corrie,  Hobs  Hole,  mar’d  some  months,  and  sundry  others;  so 
you  see  this  has  been  a marrying  year  . . . Miss  Bushrod  is  mar’d  to  Phil: 
Smith;  the  Widow  Lee  of  Jno:  Lee  to  old  Jno:  Smith  the  inoculator  . . . 

Virg’a  Stratford,  31,  May,  1769. 

A resume  of  much  of  the  family  news  is  also  given  by  William  Lee  in 
an  account  of  the  Lee  family  written  in  London  in  September,  1771: 

Philip  Ludwell  is  now  of  the  Council  in  Virginia,  is  married,  has  two 
daughters  and  lives  at  Stratford  on  Potomack  River,  Virginia;  Thomas  Ludwell 
is  married,  has  several  children  and  lives  at  Bellevue  on  Potomack  River,  Vir- 
ginia; Richard  Henry  is  married,  and  lives  at  Chantilly,  Potomack  River,  Vir- 
ginia, and  has  several  children;  Francis  Lightfoot  two  years  ago,  married  a 
daughter,  and  one  that  will  be  a coheiress  of  the  Hon.  John  Tayloe  of  Virginia; 
he  has  no  child,  and  lives  at  Menokin  on  Rappahanoc  River  in  Virginia.  Wil- 
liam. the  writer  of  this  account,  in  1769,  married  in  London  Miss  Hannah 
Philippa  Ludwell.  He  has  no  children  and  is  settled  as  a Virginia  merchant  on 


:'This  letter  has  not  been  collated  with  the  original. 


THE  SECOND  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


113 


Tower  Hill,  London.  Arthur  studied  Physic  at  Edinburgh,  where  he  took  his 
degrees,  but  disliking  the  [medical]  profession,  he  entered  about  two  years  ago 
as  a student  of  law  at  Lincoln’s  Inn  and  is  now  at  No.  3 Essex  Court  in  the 
Temple,  prosecuting  his  studies.  The  two  daughters,  Hannah  and  Alice,  were 
both  well  married,  and  are  settled  in  America.  . . . 

Of  all  the  Stratford  Lees,  even  in  this  ’'marrying  year,”  Arthur  Lee 
alone  is  left,  "the  only  unhappy  or  single  person,”  as  he  says,  "of  the 
family.”  On  August  4,  1769,  he  writes  from  Bristol  Wells  to  felicitate 
his  brother  Richard  Henry  on  his  second  marriage,  to  Anne  Gaskins 
Pinckard  of  Westmoreland: 

Bristol-Wells,  4th  August,  1769.  My  dear  Brother, — I am  sorry  you  have 
so  much  reason  to  complain  of  my  neglect;  for  which  I must  rely  on  your  good- 
ness to  pardon  me.  My  letters  by  Johnston  brought  me  an  account  of  your 
marriage;  on  which  I give  you  and  Mrs.  Lee  joy  with  all  my  heart.  The  union 
which  crowns  a mutual  affection  long  tried,  promises  the  most  permanent  fe- 
licity; and  I hope  every  succeeding  moon  will  find  you  equally  happy  with  the 
first.  I am  now  the  only  unhappy  or  single  person  of  the  family;  nor  have  I 
any  prospect  of  being  otherwise.  1 have  spent  this  season  at  the  Bristol  Wells 
in  pursuit  of  practice  and  to  make  acquaintances,  and  shall  remain  the  winter 
at  Bath  with  the  same  views.  In  the  latter  it  is  easy  to  succeed,  in  the  first  not 
quite  so  easy  here  as  at  Williamsburg.  Perseverance,  of  which  unhappily  I 
have  very  little,  is  absolutely  requisite  to  accomplish  this  business.  I often  feel 
so  home  sick  that  I cannot  bear  the  thoughts  of  living  forever  from  you;  so 
that  if  I am  not  very  short  lived  I feel  I must  make  another  trip  to  see  you. 

Contrasted  with  that  of  this  country,  how  illustriously  eminent  does  the  patri- 
otic conduct  of  Virginia  appear.  I had  my  fears,  my  anxieties  about  Virginia, 
but  my  countrymen  have  fulfilled  my  most  sanguine  wishes  and  acquired  an 
honour  which  can  never  be  tarnished.  Here  the  spirit  of  liberty  is  very  languid, 
and  all  attempts  to  rouse  it  meet  with  very  little  success.  Corruption  has  spread 
its  baneful  influence  so  universally,  that  this  country  seems  now  to  be  nearly  in 
that  state  in  which  Jugurtha  found  Rome  when  he  exclaimed, 

"O  venalem  urbem,  et  cito  perituram,  si  emptorem  invenies.” 

However,  the  utmost  endeavours  are  used  to  awaken  a proper  resentment  of 
the  atrocious  injuries  which  have  been  offered  to  the  constitution.  And  though 
I believe  they  will  obtain  petitions  enough  to  awe  the  ministry,  yet  I do  not 
hope  to  see  all  the  grievances  fully  redressed,  and  the  authors  of  them  brought 
to  condign  punishment.  With  respect  to  us  the  ministry  speak  in  a conciliating 
tone,  but  they  are  so  void  of  all  virtue  that  no  credit  is  due  to  them,  especially 
as  their  principles  are  most  notoriously  arbitrary.  Persevere  in  the  plan  of  fru- 
gality and  industry,  encourage  and  confirm  a spirit  never  to  submit  or  yield,  and 
you  will  compel  them  to  be  iust — hae  tibi  artes,  haec  arms;  and  may  heaven 
render  them  invincible. 


CHAPTER  VI:  THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 

1 


ABAY  MARE  "with  a star  in  her  forehead”  was  the  first  "wriding 
horse”  of  a Stratford  Lee.  One  of  the  large  number  of  horses 
h.  of  the  Matholic  stables,  she  was  given  by  the  second  Richard 
Lee  to  his  son  Thomas,  September  25,  1706.  At  the  same  time  he  gave 
two  other  mares  to  Thomas’  older  brother  Francis.  The  document  in  the 
Westmoreland  Records  recording  the  episode  is  entitled,  Richard  Lee’s 
' 'guift  to  his  sons.” 

I am  minded  to  make  deeds  of  guift  to  three  of  my  sons  of  the  mares  under- 
written with  their  increase  at  present  and  to  come  according  to  their  flesh  marks 
and  brand  marks  hereunder  written.  I would  have  a deed  of  guift  recorded  for 
the  use  of  my  son  Francis  of  two  bay  mares  branded  with  the  figure  2 upon  the 
rear  buttock  and  a Starr  in  either  of  their  foreheads  with  all  their  increase  past 
and  to  come. 

Likewise  I would  have  recorded  in  the  Records  of  the  Court  of  Westmore- 
land that  I give  to  my  son  Thomas  one  bay  mare  at  present  in  Middlesex  with 
a star  in  her  forehead,  one  of  her  hinder  feet  white,  branded  with ...  on  the  rear 
buttock  with  all  the  increase  of  the  said  mare  past  and  to  come  and  a black 
horse  branded  with  ...  on  the  rear  buttock.  Likewise  I would  have  recorded  in 
the  said  Court  records  that  I give  to  my  son  Henry  one  dark  bay  horse  with  a 
Starr  in  his  forehead,  branded  on  the  rear  buttock  with  the  figure  2 and  one 
bright  bay  mare  branded  with  ...  on  the  rear  buttock  and  one  of  her  hinder  feet 
with  all  the  increase  of  the  said  mare  past  and  to  come — Richard  Lee.  Capt. 
McCarty — I am  not  able  to  ride  soe  farr  have  sent  my  son  Francis  with  this  to 
you  whereby  I impower  you  as  my  Attorney  for  me  and  in  my  name  to  move  the 
Court  that  the  above  deed  may  be  recorded  as  a free  gift  from  me  to  my  said 
sons  in  my  life  time  if  you  please  to  move  in  my  name  and  behalf  for  leave  that 
they  may  be  recorded  I nothing  doubt  it  will  be  readily  granted.  I am  with  my 
service  to  the  worshipful  Court  of  Westd.  Sr.  yr  humble  serv’t — Richd  Lee. 

Perhaps  the  sixteen-year-old  Thomas  Lee  rode  this  mare  over  Strat- 
ford ground  when  he  was  exploring  its  mysterious  ravines  and  coveting 
its  beauties  even  then.  Some  few  years  later,  when  he  had  become  the 
owner  of  the  Clifts  and  was  building  his  Great  House,  he  reared  exten- 
sive barns,  huge  brick  stables,  and  a coach  house  in  contemplation 
of  just  such  purposes  as  they  were  eventually  put  to  by  Philip.  President 
Lee  was  himself  too  occupied,  as  has  been  shown,  with  the  Colony’s 
pressing  affairs  to  develop  the  Stratford  farm  on  any  large  scale.  If  he 
planned  to  import  thoroughbreds  and  make  Stratford  a nursery  of  turf 
horses  there  is  no  evidence  of  it.  This  interesting  and  constructive  piece 
of  work  he  left  for  his  eldest  son  to  accomplish. 

This  was  the  most  congenial  employment  Philip  Lee  could  have  un- 
dertaken. Like  practically  all  of  the  sons  of  the  large  planters  of  Tide- 

[114] 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 


115 


w ater  Virginia,  Philip  Lee  had  an  engrossing  interest  in  blooded  horses, 
fox  hunting,  and  horse  races.  Colonel  Daniel  McCarty’s  plantation, 
Pope’s  Creek,  directly  adjoining  Stratford,  was  a large  stock  farm,  one 
of  the  most  celebrated  breeding  establishments  in  Virginia.  Thus  at 
Stratford’s  very  gate  was  an  opportunity  for  Philip  Lee  and  his  brothers 
to  become  minutely  acquainted  with  the  details  of  the  scientific  and 
successful  organization  and  operation  of  a stud  farm. 

Following  his  return  from  abroad  and  from  the  confines  of  the  Inner 
Temple,  Philip  undoubtedly  joined  his  friends  and  neighbors  as  a 
devotee  of  what  Stanard  terms  as  "the  reigning  and  raging  sport  of 
the  Colony.” 

In  the  Rappahannock  Valley  and  across  the  Potomac  in  Maryland 
w ere  the  stud  farms  of  Stratford’s  neighbors — some  of  them  established 
on  an  extensive  scale — at  the  time  Philip  Lee  lived  at  Stratford.  Among 
them,  besides  Colonel  McCarty’s,  were  the  stud  farms  of  Colonel  Mor- 
ton at  Leedstown,  of  Colonel  Tayloe  at  Mount  Airy,  and  Colonel  Fitz- 
hugh  of  Chatham  at  Fredericksburg.  There  were  other  celebrated 
breeders  of  thoroughbreds  at  the  plantations  of  the  Lees’  relatives  and 
connections  on  the  York  and  James  Rivers:  Colonel  Nelson  at  York- 
towm,  Colonel  Wormeley  of  Rosegill,  Colonel  Harrison  of  Brandon, 
the  Carters  of  Corotoman,  Nominy,  and  Shirley.  The  frequent  races  in 
Fredericksburg  and  Williamsburg  stimulated  further  interest  and  ex- 
citement in  this  sport. 

Young  Fithian,  the  Princeton  tutor  of  the  Carter  family  at  Nominy, 
wras  disgusted  with  it.  Says  he  in  his  journal: 

. . . Fish-Feasts,  and  Fillies,  Loud  disputes  concerning  the  Excellence  of  each 
others  Colts— Concerning  their  Fathers,  Mothers  (for  so  they  call  the  Dams) 
Brothers,  Sisters,  Uncles,  Aunts,  Nephew's,  Nieces,  and  Cousins  to  the  fourth 
Degree!  All  the  Evening  Toddy  constantly  circulating.  Supper  came  in,  and 
at  Supper  I had  a full,  broad,  satisfying  view  of  Miss  Sally  Panton.  I wranted 
to  hear  her  converse,  but  poor  Girl  anything  She  attempted  to  say  was  drowmed 
in  the  more  polite  and  useful  Jargon  about  Dogs  and  Horses!  . . . 

Fithian  could  even  see  without  a quickening  of  pulse  the  great  race 
between  Colonel  Tayloe’s  famous  Yorick  and  Gift,  in  which  Yorick 
wmn — as  he  generally  did: 

Thursday.  November  25.  Rode  this  morning  to  Richmond  [County]  Court- 
house. where  two  Horses  run  for  a purse  of  500  Pounds:  besides  small  Betts 
almost  enumerable.  One  of  the  Horses  belonged  to  Colonel  John  Tayloe, 
and  is  called  Yorick.  The  other  to  Dr.  Flood,  and  is  called  Gift.  The  Assembly 
was  remarkably  numerous;  beyond  my  expectation  and  exceeding  polite  in 
general.  The  Horses  started  precisely  at  five  minutes  after  three;  the  Course 
w'as  one  Mile  in  Circumference,  they  performed  the  first  Round  in  two  minutes. 


The  old  stable  at  Stratford  before  reconstruction. 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 


117 


third  in  two  minutes  and  a Half.  Yorick  came  out  the  fifth  time  round  about 
40  Rod  before  Gift  they  were  both,  when  the  Riders  dismounted  very  lame; 
they  run  five  Miles,  and  Carried  180  lb.  Rode  home  in  the  Evening.  Expence 
to  the  Boy/7 Vi- 

Philip  Lee  had  all  the  makings  for  a stud  farm  at  Stratford,  in  its 
broad  fields  and  pastures,  its  huge  barns,  stables,  and  paddocks.  His 
original  stock  comprised  only  some  old  field  mares  and  colts,  some 
"wriding  horses”  perhaps — but  no  thoroughbreds.  Philip  had  to  use  his 
own  resources,  ingenuity,  cash,  and  industry  to  establish  a stud  farm. 

At  that  period  the  Rappahannock  Valley  was  the  center  of  Virginia’s 
horse  breeding,  and  the  importation  of  horses  and  mares  to  the  Colony 
was  limited  to  this  section.  Some  years  later  the  center  was  to  shift  to 
the  James  River  Valley,  thence  to  Roanoke,  and  still  later  to  the  upper 
country,  Fairfax,  Loudoun,  Clarke,  and  Fauquier  counties. 

Philip  Lee’s  first  notable  step  was  to  import,  in  the  year  1765,  the 
famous  thoroughbred  stallion  Dotterel,  to  stand  at  Stratford.  Dotterel 
was  reputed  by  the  advertisements  of  the  day  to  be  "the  swiftest  horse  in 
all  England  (Eclipse  excepted).”  He  was  foaled  in  1756  and  had  been 
bred  by  the  great  English  horseman,  Sir  John  Pennington.  He  "was  a 
high  formed  horse,  1 5 V2  hands  high;  a powerful  strong  boned  horse...” 

Philip  Ludwell  Lee  placed  the  following  advertisements  vouching  for 
Dotterel  over  Tidewater  Virginia  and  Maryland; 

Dotterel  will  cover  mares  at  Philip  Ludwell  Lee’s  at  Stratford,  in  Westmore- 
land county  this  season  for  six  pounds  the  season,  or  thirty-six  shillings  the 
leap. 

He  was  got  by  Changeling1:  his  dam  by  a son  of  Wynn’s  Arabian:  his 
grandam  by  a son  of  the  Lonsdale  Arabian:  his  great  great  grandam  by  a son 
of  the  Bay  Barb,  and  out  of  the  Barbon  mare. 

The  above  pedigree  may  be  seen  at  Stratford  in  the  handwriting  and  signed 
by  Sir  John  Pennington  in  England,  who  bred  him;  he  beat  the  best  horses  in 
England  four  mile  heats,  with  twelve  stone  on  him,  a small  time  before  he 
came  away  for  Virginia:  He  is  near  15  hands  and  a half  high,  a healthy,  strong 
boned  horse,  and  is  of  the  sort  most  esteemed  in  Britain  for  a stallion,  not  too 
far  removed  from  the  original  stock.  Where  the  horse  stands  there  are  excellent 
pastures  and  meadows  for  mares.  [1766,  June  6,  VG] 

For  ten  years  Dotterel  stood  at  Stratford.  The  Stratford  farm  took  its 
place  side  by  side  with  the  Pope’s  Creek  and  Leedstown  studs  in  the 
introduction  of  English  thoroughbreds  into  Westmoreland  and  other 
counties  of  the  Northern  Neck.  Although  Stratford  never  was  as  large 
or  conspicuous  as  some  of  the  other  stud  farms  of  this  region,  it  had  an 

lJ.  Pennington’s  Changeling  was  as  famous  a horse  as  any  in  the  world  in  every  respect. 
[Changeling  was  a full  brother  to  Matchem.  by  Cade  out  of  a Partner  mare:  Cade  being  a son 
of  the  Godolphin.]  The  Equine  F.  F.  Vs.  P.  118. 


118 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


important  local  part  in  helping  to  bring  in  and  sustain  English  traditions 
of  the  turf.  Stratford,  with  Dotterel,  who  carried  twelve  stone  in  Eng- 
land, may  perhaps  have  seen  some  good  races  now  and  then.  Echoes  of 
Virginia’s  exciting  races  of  the  eighteenth  century  have  come  down  the 
years.  The  planters  of  Virginia  and  Maryland  were  expert  riders.  As 
Stanard  says  in  Colonial  Virginia,  this  "perhaps  accounts  for  the  charm 
they  found  in  racing,  which  they  regarded  as  peculiarly  a gentleman’s 
diversion.  ...” 

Lossing’s  hearsay  statement  that  at  Stratford  there  were  "stalls  for  a 
hundred  horses,”  might  not  be  taken  as  an  exaggeration,  did  he  not  at 
the  same  time  declare  that  Stratford  Hall  itself  was  a house  with  "a 
hundred  rooms.” 

The  stud  farm  at  Stratford  was  a success  from  the  start.  With  Philip 
Lee’s  death  the  stud  was  abolished.  His  cherished  Dotterel  was  put  up 
for  sale  a few  weeks  later: 

For  sale,  the  high  blooded  horse  Dotterel.  He  is  full  15  hands  3 inches  high, 
and  remarkable  for  the  strength  and  beauty  of  his  form,  being  in  every  respect 
worthy  of  his  high  descent,  which  is  from  the  best  stock  in  England.  . . . The 
gentlemen  of  the  turf  are  well  acquainted  with  Dotterel’s  performances  in 
Great  Britain,  and  that  he  was  esteemed  the  swiftest  horse  in  England  (Eclipse 
excepted)  . . . [His]  pedigree  may  be  seen,  and  the  terms  of  sale  made 
known  to  any  person  inclined  to  purchase  by  applying  to  the  steward  at  Strat- 
ford, the  seat  of  the  late  Hon.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq;  in  Westmoreland 
County.  [1775,  March  25,  VG] 

An  abstract  from  the  1775  inventory  of  Philip  Lee  gives  the  exact  ap- 
praisal by  the  administrators  of  his  estate  of  "such  horses  Mares  and 
Colts  as  were  shown  to  us:” 


Dotterel  Stud  Horse 

£100 

Peg  & her  filly 

£ 11 

Lilliput  Chesnut  horse 

£ 10 

Bolton  bay  horse 

£ 1 

Jack  Sorrel  horse 

£ 4 

Stockings  Sorrel  horse 

£ 15 

Blossom  Sorrel  Mare 

£ 25 

Silver  Sorrel  Mare  & filly 

£ 20 

Fancy  Sorrel  Mare  & filly 

£ 20 

Whitefoot  Bay  horse 

£ 25 

Sterling  Bay  horse 

£ 15 

Creeping  Kate 

£ 20 

Jenny  Bowles  bay  mare 

£ 20 

Bay  filly  3 years  old 

£ 12 

Grey  mare 

£ 10 

Phillis  & grey  filly 

£ 8 

Grey  filly  2 years  old 

£ 8 

■ 

h- 

— 

DOTTERREL 

Bred  in  England  by  Sir  John  Pennington 

Brought  to  United  States  by  P.  N.  Lee  of  Virginia  i 

1 1765  < 

r earlii 

r . 

Stood  in  Westmorland  County,  Virginia,  in  1766. 

Dam  PEDIGREE  Sire 


£ 


Pedigree  of  Dotterel. 


120 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


Descriptions  of  the  various  types  of  the  eighteenth  century  coaches 
of  the  Stratford  Lees  are  available  in  several  unpublished  documents. 
The  specifications  for  Hannah  Lee  Corbin’s  coach  ordered  for  her  in 
London  in  1768  by  her  brother  William  (through  George  Richard 
Turberville,  Hannah’s  son-indaw) , give  a graphic  picture  of  the  fashion- 
able equipage  of  that  period:2 

James  Russel  Esq.r  For  Mr  Turbeville 
To  x Poole  & Ringsted 


1768 
Octo  8 
Mr  Russells 
original  agreeing 
was  for  a 
CompL-  chariot 
with  Harness 
for  four  Horses 

£90.— 


by  order 
of  Mr  Wm. 
Lee 


To  A new  Genteel  Post  Chariot  Made  of  the 
best  Materials,  Neatly  Carved,  with  all  Manner 
of  the  best  Brass  Leather  & Iron  Work,  Four 
Steel  Springs  Iron  Axletrees  & Strong  Sett  of 
Wheels,  Painted  a fine  Green  Ground,  with  Coat 
of  Arms  & Crest  proper  with  handsome  Orna- 
ments in  Green  heightened  in  Gold  the  Mould- 
ings & Edges  Gilt,  the  Carriage  & Wheels — 
Coloured  & Varnished,  Lined  with  a fine  light 
Cloth  with  all  Manner  of  the  best  Worsted 
Trimming  same  Colour,  Handsome  Seat  Cloth 
made  up  w<T.  2 Rows  of  Frings,  the  best  Plate 
Glasses  2 in  front,  Mohogany  Shutters,  Inside 

Trunk  and  Carpet  to  the  bottom 

To  4 new  Genteel  Harness  made  of  the  best 
Neats  Leather  Engraven  Crest  Housings  & 
Winkers  Bridles  & reins  Compleat  & 2 Postilion 
Saddles;  A Large  Deal  Case  and  Packs  up  the 
Body,  Matts  & Packing  up  the  Carriage  & 

Wheels,  Marked  as  pr  Margin 

To  Anew  Pair  of  Postilion  Harness  Made  of  the 
best  Neats  Leather,  Engraven  Crest  and  Hous- 
ings & Winkers  Bridle  & reins  Compleat 

To  Anew  Sett  of  Barrs  Spare  Barr  & Splintree.  . 
To  6 Postilion  Whips  & new  Pair  Horse  Whip. 

To  2 long  Thongs 

To  A Nett  to  the  Roof 

To  Cartage  & Porterage  & Watermen 


90- - 


- -7-10- 
1-16- 
18- 
5- 
7 

10 


£ 101-  6- 

Contrasted  with  Hannah’s  simplicity  of  taste,  her  daily  life,  and  her 
avowed  intent  not  to  be  "of  the  rich  and  the  great,”  it  would  appear  that 

2The  original  order  for  this  coach  was  preserved  by  Hannah’s  descendants  (through  Martha), 
Miss  Alary  Lee  Murphy,  and  Air.  R.  Stafford  Murphy,  of  Westmoreland.  The  interesting  docu- 
ment wras  given  by  them  to  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation. 


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Tac simile  of  original  specifications  for  a coach  ordered  in  London  by  Alderman  II  illiam 
Lee  for  his  sister,  Hannah  Lee  Corbin. 


122 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


the  grand  post-chariot  was  more  frequently  used  perhaps  by  Martha 
Corbin  Turberville,  her  daughter,  rather  than  by  Hannah. 

Another  description  of  an  even  more  lordly  eighteenth  century  coach 
"in  prospect”  for  a member  of  the  Lee  family  connected  with  Stratford, 
is  in  an  original  autographed  letter  written  by  Tom  Shippen  to  his  sister 
Nancy  (Mrs.  Henry  Beekman  Livingston).  The  observant  young  "ex- 
quisite” grandson  and  namesake  of  Thomas  Lee,  is  at  his  country  home, 
Farley  in  Pennsylvania,  making  ready  for  one  of  his  customary  visits  to 
Virginia: 

I gave  Mr.  B[ringhurst]  [the  Coach  Maker]  my  directions  yesterday,  he 
writes,  "as  to  the  color  of  the  painting  as  well  as  the  lining  and  trimmings, 
tho’  perhaps  you  might  as  well  give  them  to  him  in  writing  for  fear  of  a 
mistake.  The  body  of  the  Carriage  is  to  be  of  a dark  London  brown,  gilt,  with 
my  cypher  T.L.S.  and  a Raven  holding  an  oak  leaf  (our  crest)  over  it.  The 
carriage  part  is  to  be  painted  nearly  white  picked  out  (as  they  call  it)  with 
green,  to  correspond  with  my  livery — The  lining  is  to  be  of  a cloth  at  30/  a 
yard  pepper  & salt  colour  and  the  trimmings  green  and  white  lace — The  stuff- 
ing to  be  made  every  where  of  the  best  curled  hair,  and  the  cushions  both  of 
the  seats  and  quarters  remarkably  well  stuffed  so  as  to  be  soft  and  comfortable 
to  an  Invalid.  Glasses  behind,  before  and  at  the  doors  and  false  blinds  to  repre- 
sent Venetian  ones  in  the  painting  of  them,  where  ever  the  glasses  are  and  be- 
sides that,  in  the  quarters — to  be  made  to  close  up  m the  winter  with  the 
cushions.  The  carriage  moreover  must  be  hung  low  to  accommodate  me  in 
getting  in,  and  the  steps  of  the  best  kind,  large  and  covered  with  carpeting  like 
that  in  the  bottom  of  the  carriage.  Holders  behind  for  the  footman  of  green  & 
white  lace.  These  particulars  you  can  copy  upon  another  piece  of  paper  and 
keep  this  note,  to  compare  notes  by,  when  the  work  is  finished. 

As  to  the  harness,  you  will  have  an  opportunity  to  exercise  your  address 
there.  If  you  find  that  he  will  not  remember  your  particular  orders  about  brass 
harness  for  2 horses  which  you  seem  to  think  you  gave  him,  and  which  there- 
fore I should  think  it  so  short  a time  you  could  hardly  be  mistaken  about — 
urge  him  then  for  the  sake  of  his  reputation  which  will  be  greatly  affected  in 
the  distant  Countries  (N.  & S.  Carolina  and  Georgia  in  particular)  I am  going 
to  travel  through,  by  this  specimen  of  his  skill,  to  lay  out  the  worth  of  the 
harness  in  making  ye  Carriage  in  any  respect  more  elegant — more  durable,  or 
less  burdensome — In  short  get  the  harness  if  you  can,  for  the  pole  end  horses 
instead  of  those  you  expected  for  the  400  Drs.  exclusive  of  the  additional 
Coachman’s  seat  which  I have  ordered,  and  if  not  as  much  as  possible  in  lieu 
of  it — And  as  to  the  rest,  I repose  the  utmost  confidence  in  your  vigilance  your 
attention,  your  taste  and  your  devotion  to  my  interests.  Give  my  love  to  Peggy 
and  to  everybody  over  the  way,  and  believe  me  ever  yours  most  affectionately. 

William  Lee’s  sister-in-law,  Lucy  Ludwell  Paradise,  brought  her 
London  carriage  with  her  when  she  returned  to  America  in  the  last 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 


123 


decade  of  the  eighteenth  century  to  spend  her  declining  years  in  Wil- 
liamsburg. This  is  one  of  the  quaintest  chariots  imaginable:  black  and 
yellow,  with  silver  trimmings  and  high  folding  steps.  The  knobs  of  the 
door  are  ornamented  with  silver  bas-reliefs  of  horses’  heads  of  skillful 
craftsmanship.3 

Of  the  vehicles  in  the  coach  house  at  Stratford  during  the  middle  or 
late  eighteenth  century,  no  description  is  available.  The  inventories  of 
the  first  two  masters  of  Stratford  contain  meagre  and  probably  incom- 
plete references.  Among  the  carriages  mentioned  in  Philip  Lee’s  in 
ventory  are: 


1 

small  Chaise 

1000/ 

1 

Landay 

300/ 

1 

Charriott 

600/ 

5 

Carts  & I Tumbrel 

200/ 

1 

Cart 

30/ 

When  he  attended  the  meetings  of  the  Council,  President  Lee  prob- 
ably rode  horseback  to  Williamsburg  just  as  he  had  done  as  a Burgess. 
On  occasions  when  his  family  accompanied  him,  they  must  have  traveled 
in  a coach  and  six. 

For  Philip  Lee,  however,  especially  after  his  marriage,  there  would 
inevitably  have  been  high  display  and  as  "lordly”  a coach  perhaps  as 
the  one  in  which  rode  King  Carter  of  Corotoman.  During  Philip’s  time 
the  county  roads  from  the  Northern  Neck  to  the  little  capital  citv  were 
probably  more  passable  than  in  his  father’s  day. 

In  the  fifteen  or  twenty  years  before  the  Revolution,  according  to 
Fithian,  "Almost  every  Gentleman  of  Condition,  keeps  a Chariot  and 
Four:  many  drive  with  six  Plorses.”  In  the  Northern  Neck  there  were 
some  grand  equipages,  such  as  Hannah  Corbin’s  and  those  belonging  to 
the  other  wealthy  neighboring  families,  among  them  Fitzhugh,  Mc- 
Carty, Ashton,  Tayloe,  and  Carter.  Two  of  King  Carter’s  sons,  Landon 
and  Robert,  lived  in  the  vicinity  of  Stratford,  the  first  at  Sabine  Hall,  and 
the  second  at  Nominy.  They  had  elegant  family  vehicles.  Fithian  tells 
of  the  arrival  at  Nominy  of  "our  new  coach  . . . from  the  ship  lying  at 
Leeds:  a plain  carriage,  the  upper  part  black  and  the  lower  sage  or  pea 
green.  The  Harness  is  neat  strong,  and  Suitable  for  the  Country.  Price 
one  hundred  and  twenty  pounds  sterling.”  Councillor  Carter  had  also  a 
"strong,  fashionable,  travelling  post  coach,  lined  with  blue  morocco,” 

"This  coach  is  owned  by  Mr.  and  Airs.  Victor  Stewart  of  Chippokes,  Surry  County,  the 
ancient  Berkeley  Plantation  on  the  Surry  side  of  the  James,  which  passed  into  Ludwell  owner- 
ship, and  so  to  Lucy  Paradise.  The  rare  and  picturesque  old  equipage  was  purchased  with  the 
plantation  by  Air.  and  Airs.  Stewart  some  twenty  years  ago. 


124 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


a "chariot  with  six  wheels,”  and  a chair.  His  coachman  and  postilions 
wore  livery  of  blue  broadcloth  with  brass  buttons. 

The  only  actual  mention  of  carriages  and  coaches  at  Stratford  refers 
to  the  second  period  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee’s  life  there  from  1795  to 
1810.  In  an  unpublished  manuscript,  Charles  Carter  Lee,  the  son  ot 
Light-Horse  Harry  and  Ann  Carter,  describes  the  life  at  Stratford  dur- 
ing the  last  decade  of  the  eighteenth  century  and  the  beginning  of  the 
nineteenth.4  In  this  narrative  are  frequent  references  to  coaches  and  to 
horses,  although  there  came  a time  in  that  family’s  fortunes  when  they 
were  to  have  neither. 

Charles  Carter  Lee’s  statements  and  descriptions  of  Stratford  in  these 
unknown,  long  buried  papers,  reveal  intimate  and  interesting  scenes  and 
happenings  in  the  family  and  on  the  place.  Carter  writes: 

. . . Our  domestic  pleasures  were  diversified  by  the  visits  ...  of  our  near 
neighbors,  & of  our  distant  ones,  chiefly  the  Carters,  in  their  coaches  & four. 
I have  a faint  recollection  that  Mr  Carter  of  Cleve  & his  family  came  to  Strat- 
ford, in  those  sweet  days,  in  two  coaches  & fours,  the  old  gentleman  presiding 
in  one  of  those  vehicles  & his  honoured  & beloved  wife  in  another.  . . . The 
dear  old  gentleman,  Mr  Carter  of  Nomini,  came  in  the  same  style,  I think.  . . . 

When  the  family  rode  abroad  during  his  childhood  they  drove  in  a 
coach-and-four.  Carter  mentions  specifically  the  time  when  he  was  four 
years  old  and  went  with  his  parents  in  their  "coach  & four,”  when  they 
made  a "Northern  tour.”  He  also  speaks  of  seeing  the  coach  horses  let 
down  in  the  hold  of  the  vessel: 

This  incident  was  calculated  to  make  an  impression  on  a child,  who  had 
never  even  dreamed  of  such  a performance.  That  much  is  distinct,  & as  such 
it  is  still  photographed  on  the  tablets  of  my  memory:  & I am  pretty  certain, 
that  this  was  done  at  Providence,  Rhode  Island,  from  which  place  we  sailed, 
instead  of  travelling,  as  before,  on  land,  to  some  point,  which  I have  not  the 
least  recollection  of  arriving  at.  For  having  doubtless  been  carried  [inde- 
cipherable word  crossed  out]  from  the  vessel  before  the  horses  were  taken  out 
of  it,  I have  no  recollection  of  that  impressive  event. 

More  than  two  generations  later,  the  year  after  the  War  Between  the 
States,  Stratford  was  the  scene  of  the  Westmoreland  County  Tourna- 
ment. Descendants  of  the  friends  and  neighbors  of  the  Stratford  Lees 
gathered  there  for  the  first  time  in  many  years.  Expert  young  horsemen 
of  the  Northern  Neck  came  on  their  favorite  mounts  to  take  part  in  the 
contest  in  which  the  "Knight”  who  was  the  victor  would  crown  "the 
Queen  of  Love  and  Beauty.”  The  spacious  meadows  of  the  south  ap- 


4Photostat  collection.  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation. 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 


125 


proach  to  the  Great  House  was  the  field  of  the  tournament  and  the  cere- 
mony of  the  crowning  of  the  Queen  took  place  in  the  Great  Hall. 

2 

Virginia  was  settled  from  the  water,  and  only  gradually  were  the  in- 
land sections  put  under  cultivation.  Until  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth 
century  virtually  every  plantation  had  to  be  reached  through  its  water- 
front. So  it  was  at  Stratford.  Here  were  the  "warff”  or  Landing,  the 
Plantation  Store  and  Store  Houses,  the  Tobacco  Warehouses,  Shipyard, 
Stocks,  the  Mills  and  the  Cooper’s  Shop.  The  county  people  for  miles 
around  sent  their  tobacco  for  shipment  when  a public  warehouse  was 
established  there  during  the  period  of  Philip  Lee.  They  came  not  only 
to  send  out  their  tobacco,  but  also  to  buy  their  stores  and  receive  their 
cargoes,  to  see  the  ships  from  England  riding  in,  and  to  get  the  captains’ 
news. 

In  the  latter  part  of  the  seventeenth  century,  the  Stratford  waterfront 
was  a center  of  public  and  private  business  and  of  local  industrial  activ- 
itv,  first  for  the  Pope  family  and  their  neighbors  and  then  for  the  Lees 
and  theirs.  Like  all  the  planters’  landings,  it  was  perhaps  more  impor- 
tant as  a center  for  the  gathering  and  dispersing  of  news,  foreign  and  do- 
mestic, than  were  the  two  churches  of  Westmoreland. 

The  strategic  position  of  Stratford  as  a central  point  for  shipping  and 
mill  operation  for  the  county  must  have  appealed  to  Thomas  Lee,  even 
before  his  purchase  of  the  plantation. 

Of  the  waters  of  this  section  Robert  Beverley  savs: 

THE  Largeness  of  the  Bay  of  Chesapeak  I have  mention’d  already.  From 
one  End  of  it  to  the  other,  there’s  good  Anchorage,  and  so  little  Danger  of  a 
Wreck,  that  many  Masters,  who  have  never  been  there  before,  venture  up  to 
the  Head  of  the  Bay,  upon  the  slender  Knowledge  of  a common  Sailor.  But 
the  Experience  of  one  Voyage  teaches  any  Master  to  go  up  afterwards,  without 
a Pilot. 

Besides  this  Bay,  the  Country  is  water’d  with  four  great  Rivers,  viz.  James, 
York.  Rappahannock,  and  Patoinneck  Rivers;  all  which  are  full  of  convenient 
and  safe  Harbours.  There  are  also  abundances  of  lesser  Rivers,  many  of  which 
are  capable  of  receiving  the  biggest  Merchant-Ships  . . 

These  Rivers  are  of  such  Convenience,  that,  for  almost  every  half  dozen 
Miles  of  their  Extent,  there’s  a commodious  and  safe  Road  for  a whole  Fleet; 
which  gives  Opportunity  to  the  Masters  of  Ships,  to  lye  up  and  down  straggling, 
according  as  they  have  made  their  Acquaintance,  riding  before  that  Gentleman’s 
Door  where  they  find  the  best  Reception,  or  where  ’tis  most  suitable  to  their 
Business. 

These  Rivers  are  made  up,  by  the  Conflux  of  an  infinite  Number  of  chrystal 


126 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


Springs  of  cool  and  pleasant  Water,  issuing  every  where  out  of  the  Banks,  and 
Sides  of  the  Valleys.  These  Springs  flow  so  plentifully,  that  they  make  the  River 
Water  fresh,  fifty,  threescore,  and  sometimes  an  hundred  Miles  below  the 
Flux  and  Reflux  of  the  Tides;  and  sometime  within  thirty  or  forty  Miles  of  the 
Bay  itself.  The  Conveniencies  of  these  Springs  are  so  many,  they  are  not  to  be 
number’d:  I shall  therefore  content  my  self  to  mention  that  one  of  supplying  the 
Country  else  where,  except  in  the  low  Lands,  with  as  many  Mills  as  they  can 
find  Work  for:  And  some  of  these  send  forth  such  a Glut  of  Water,  that  in  less 
than  a Mile  below  the  Fountain-head,  they  afford  a Stream  sufficient  to  supply 
a Grist-Mill;  of  which  there  are  several  Instances. 

In  John  Oldmixon’s  T he  British  Empire  in  America,  of  approximately 
the  same  period,  when  developments  were  beginning  at  Stratford,  is  a 
somewhat  similar  reference. 

Other  goods  besides  tobacco  transported  by  the  colonists  from  the  old 
river  landings  included  wood,  lumber,  indigo,  and  naval  stores.  From 
England,  as  Beverley  ruefully  declares: 

THEY  have  their  Clothing  of  all  sorts  ...  as  Linen,  Woollen,  Silk,  Hats,  and 
Leather:  Yet  Flax,  and  Hemp  grow  no  where  in  the  World  better  than  there. 
There  Sheep  yield  good  Increase,  and  bear  good  Fleeces;  but  they  shear  them 
only  to  cool  them.  The  Mulberry-Tree,  whose  Leaf  is  the  proper  Food  of  the 
Silk-Worm,  grows  there  like  a Weed,  and  Silk-worms  have  been  observ’d  to 
thrive  extremely,  and  without  any  Hazard.  The  very  Furs  that  their  Hats  are 
made  of  , perhaps  go  first  from  thence;  and  most  of  their  Hides  lie  and  rot,  or  are 
made  use  of  only  for  covering  dry  Goods,  in  a leaky  House.  Indeed  some  few 
Hides  with  much  ado  are  tan’d,  and  made  into  Servants  Shoes;  but  at  so  careless 
a Rate,  that  the  Planters  don’t  care  to  buy  them,  if  they  can  get  others;  and 
sometimes  perhaps  a better  Manager  than  ordinary,  will  vouchsafe  to  make  a 
pair  of  Breeches  of  a Deer-Skin.  Nay,  they  are  such  abominable  Ill-husbands, 
that  tho’  their  Country  be  over-run  with  Wood,  yet  they  have  all  their  Wooden 
Ware  from  England;  their  Cabinets,  Chairs,  Tables,  Stools,  Chests,  Boxes, 
Cart-Wheels,  and  all  other  things,  even  so  much  as  their  Bowls,  and  Birchen 
Brooms,  to  the  Eternal  Reproach  of  their  Laziness. 

From  the  earliest  davs  there  was  coastwise  and  West  India  trade  at 
Potomac  landings,  as  well  as  trade  with  England — a circumstance  that 
brought  about  an  interesting  connection  and  frequent  intermarriage  be- 
tween the  families  of  New  England,  Bermuda,  and  West  Indian  sea 
captains,  and  early  Virginia  planters. 

The  old  landings  themselves  indeed  reach  out  from  the  shores  of  yesterdays 
. . . Looked  at  through  the  eyes  of  history  focused  on  the  old  chronicles,  the 
colonial  records,  the  parish  vestry  books,  the  old  statutes  and  wills  and  diaries 
and  letters,  the  vivid  features  of  the  early  days  assert  themselves;  the  canoes 
of  the  Indians  dart  again  along  the  river;  the  shallops  of  John  Smith  and  the 
other  adventurers  sail  its  course;  the  pinnaces  of  Lord  Baltimore  search  its 
shores  and  find  a haven;  the  square-rigged  clippers  from  England  bring  luxuries 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERERONT 


127 


and  dainties  to  the  planters  and  their  dames;  the  landings  bend  and  creak  or 
straighten  and  steady  under  the  tobacco  cargoes;  the  plantations  renew  the 
life  of  plenty  and  ease  and  splendour."' 

In  common  with  all  other  plantation  landings  in  Virginia,  Stratford 
waterfront  shared  a view  into  far  horizons,  had  more  or  less  touch 
with  world  events.  With  the  passing  of  the  seventeenth  century,  the 
shadow  of  the  fierce  conflict  between  England  and  France  reached  over 
the  waters.  Though  the  colonists  had  no  part  in  the  making  of  that  war, 
nor  in  the  succeeding  European  wars  of  the  early  eighteenth  century, 
they  were  drawn  into  the  vortex.  The  menace  from  Indian  attack  also 
made  for  constant  tension.  Forts  and  block  houses  were  being  built  in 
various  parts  of  the  Colony;  rangers  were  placed  on  guard  far  up  the 
Potomac,  on  the  Rappahannock,  the  York,  and  the  James.  War  news 
came  first  through  the  waterfront. 

Over  a decade  later,  when  Thomas  Lee  finished  building  Stratford 
house  and  brought  his  family  there  to  live,  the  waterfront  must  have 
been  a mine  of  interest  to  the  Lee  boys  and  no  doubt  inspired  their 
ardent  and  zealous  concern  in  world  affairs.  Here  worked  their  father’s 
and  their  brother  Philip’s  boatswain  and  ship  carpenters:  Osman,  Phil, 
Frank,  Edmund,  Congo  the  brick  layer,  "Bab  at  the  Mill”  and  Harry, 
his  "carp[enter]  Fidlr  [Fiddler.]”  Undoubtedly  the  negro  West  also 
worked  here.  These  names  of  the  Lees’  slaves  are  in  the  old  inventories. 
West’s  family  never  left  the  place,  and  his  descendants  live  and  work  at 
Stratford  today. 

During  the  1730’s  and  1740’s  the  Lee  boys  perhaps  had  exciting  ex- 
periences with  the  mysterious  foreign  coins.  With  Virginia’s  medium  of 
exchange  tobacco — tobacco  only — matters  of  "finance”  must  have  been 
prosaic.  But  when  the  ships  came  riding  in,  with  their  strange  cargoes, 
in  the  pockets  of  the  sailors  were  Spanish  double  doubloons,  pistoles, 
Arabian  chequins,  French  crowns  and  pieces  of  eight.  Then,  too,  there 
were  sea-faring  men  from  many  lands.  Face  to  face  the  young  Lees 
would  meet  men  who  sailed  the  Spanish  Main,  not  legendary  figures, 
but  men  of  flesh  and  blood,  who  transformed  their  landing  into  a scene 
of  adventure  and  romance. 

. the  Soanish  sailors  with  bearded  lips, 

And  the  beauty  and  mystery  of  the  ships, 

And  the  magic  of  the  sea.  . 

Among  the  merchant  ships  riding  Potomac  waters  in  the  earlv 
eighteenth  century  were  the  Lee,  the  Chatham,  the  Frederick,  the  Pris- 
cilla, the  Charles,  the  America,  the  Sea  Horse,  and  Friend's  Adventure. 


A >1  A P of  ^ 
tliemoft  INHABITED  part  of 


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h'ifhjitrf  "/ 

PENsnvAxi.i . xr  ii  Jersey North  Carouxa 

Ay  rx/ry  /y 

'/atlm/tFir  tt  JVhT  JtffhsoH  ^ 


tf of)  /'  //-'  r/o.U  (J  //u  /yi'/oAI . /iw/riH/j/jr  . 

( [ ///«/ 


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■J'n/t \ m/v/  JrrA'J JffwfJt'tJ/'rr.' J . '/r/Jrrvs 


A typical  Virginia  landing  of  the  eighteenth  century,  showing  corner  of  tobacco  warehouse 
and  other  waterfront  structures. 


There  were  sea  craft,  too,  from  dark  waters.  Of  the  raids  of  the  pirate 
"Long  Arm,”  especially,  are  innumerable  tales  and  traditions.  But  he 
passed  by  Stratford  in  the  night,  bringing  neither  murderous  attack  nor 
treasure  to  bury. 

In  the  Public  Record  Office,  London,  are  many  inventories  of  con- 
signments of  furniture  and  other  household  goods  shipped  in  the  early 
1700’s  to  "the  south  side  of  Potomac”  at  the  time  when  Richard  Lee  and 
Thomas  Lee  were  naval  officers  there.  A ship’s  manifest  which  left 
Plymouth  for  the  Potomac  River  carried  brocatelles,  brocades,  lacquers, 
etc.,  and  the  returned  bill  of  lading  bore  the  signature  of  Thomas  Lee. 
His  signature  as  naval  officer  is  also  preserved  on  some  of  the  records  of 
consignments  exported  from  Virginia. 

A typical  planter’s  bill  of  lading  is  this  bill  for  merchandise  shipped 
from  London  on  a clipper  ship  Potomac-bound: 

Shipped  by  the  Grace  of  God,  in  good  order  and  well  conditioned  by  Wil- 
liam Lee  in  and  upon  the  good  ship  called  the  Friendship,  whereof  is  Master 
unto  God  for  the  present  Voyage,  William  Roman,  and  now  riding  at  Anchor 
in  the  river  Thames  and  by  God’s  Grace  bound  for  Virginia,  to  say  one  case, 
One  Trunk,  one  Box  of  Merchandise,  being  marked  and  numbered  as  in  the 
margin  and  are  to  be  delivered  in  like  good  order  and  well  conditioned  at  the 
aforesaid  Port  of  Virginia  (the  danger  of  the  sea  only  excepted)  unto  Mrs. 

[128] 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 


129 


Anna  Washington  at  Pope’s  Creek,  Potomak  River  or  to  her  assigns.  Freight 
for  the  said  goods  being  paid  with  Primage  and  Average  accustomed.0 

The  archives  of  Westmoreland  Courthouse  are  packed  with  old  sea- 
faring records,  quite  as  if  it  were  a maritime  region.  They  deal  with  the 
making  of  tobacco  at  the  Clifts  and  elsewhere  and  its  inspection  and 
shipment  at  Stratford  and  other  Potomac  landings;  with  the  building  of 
wharves,  boats,  and  warehouses;  with  the  names  of  ships  and  ship  cap- 
tains; with  the  adjustments  of  weights  and  scales.  An  occasional  notice 
is  found  of  a thief  making  away  with  sailcloth  from  the  store  and  his 
punishment  therefor.  The  kinds  and  varieties  of  goods  brought  from 
England  are  also  listed.  Records  of  supplies  shipped  on  vessels  and 
money  advanced  for  needed  repairs  are  noted.  Abstracts  from  account- 
ings of  the  estates  of  the  planters  of  the  Northern  Neck  contain  further 
items.  From  this  cumulative  data,  definite  and  concrete,  the  life  and 
activities  of  the  Stratford  waterfront  may  be  reconstructed. 

In  the  year  "1736/7,”  March  12,  comes  this  expression  of  gratitude  to 
Thomas  Lee,  Esquire,  at  Virginia,  from  Weymouth,  England:  "I  am 
very  thankfull  to  you  for  Supplying  Capt.  John  Brett  with  £100  to  repair 
his  vessel  &c.  and  have  honour^  his  bill  for  the  same.  Should  said  Capt. 
want  one  hundred  pounds  more  in  Virginia  this  voyage,  or  any  part  of 
that  Sum  his  Bill  on  me  for  the  Same  Shall  all  so  be  Punctually  hon- 
oured. If  I can  render  you  any  agreeable  Service  here  should  be  glad  to 
have  the  Pleasure  of  doing  it,  and  on  all  occasions  shall  be  most  readily 
— Sr.  yr.  most  Humble  Servant,  Thos.  Bryer.” 

The  Westmoreland  Courthouse  records  for  March  and  July,  1743, 
contain  the  first  mention  of  Lee’s  Landing,  and  refer  to  the  mill  and  "an 
old  Mill  dam  near  the  said  Lee’s  Landing.”  From  the  period  when 
Thomas  Lee’s  son  Philip  became  owner  of  Stratford,  extending  from 
1750  to  1775,  there  are  many  records  about  Stratford  Landing,  ware- 
houses, ships,  etc.,  not  only  in  the  Westmoreland  books,  but  also  in 
Hening’s  Laws  of  Virginia  and  in  the  Journals  of  the  House  of  Bur- 
gesses. 

Significant  developments  occurred  at  Stratford  in  the  year  1759,  when 
Lee’s  Landing  passed  from  the  more  or  less  private  service  of  the  owner, 
his  tenants,  and  small  planters  of  the  neighborhood  to  public  service  for 
the  entire  peninsula.  In  this  year  a bill  to  construct  a public  warehouse  at 
Stratford  Landing  was  prepared  by  Archibald  Cary,  Richard  Henry  Lee, 
and  Henry  Lee,  cousin  and  guardian  of  the  Stratford  Lees,  and  intro- 
duced by  them  in  the  House  of  Burgesses.  The  text  of  the  act  as  given 


130 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


in  Hening’s  Laws  of  Virginia  is  typical  of  the  grandiloquence  of  the 
times: 

At  a General  Assembly,  began  and  held  at  the  Capitol  in  Williamsburg,  on 
Thursday  the  fourteenth  day  of  September,  in  the  thirty-second  year  of  the 
reign  of  our  sovereign  lord  George  II,  by  the  grace  of  God,  of  Great-Britain, 
France,  and  Ireland,  King,  Defender  of  the  Faith  &etc.,  and  in  the  year  of  our 
Lord,  1758;  and  from  thence  continued  bv  several  prorogations  to  Thursday 
the  twenty-second  of  February,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord,  1759;  being  the  third 
session  of  this  assembly;  the  following  Act  was  passed: 

An  Act  for  putting  Matchotique  and  Mattox  Warehouses,  in  the  county  of 
Westmoreland,  under  one  inspection;  for  erecting  a Warehouse  at  Stratford 
Landing,  in  the  said  county,  and  for  other  purposes  therein  mentioned. 

I.  WHEREAS  the  warehouses  established  for  the  inspection  of  tobacco  at 
Matchotique  and  Mattox,  in  the  county  of  Westmoreland,  are  conveniently 
situated  for  being  under  one  inspection,  and  the  tobacco  brought  to  both  places 
may  easily  be  inspected  by  one  set  of  inspectors:  Be  it  therefore  enacted , by  the 
Lieutenant-Governor,  Council,  and  Burgesses,  of  this  present  General  Assembly , 
and  it  is  hereby  enacted,  by  the  authority  of  the  same,  That  from  and  after  the 
passing  of  this  act  the  said  warehouses  at  Matchotique  and  Mattox  shall  be 
under  one  inspection;  and  that  there  shall  be  paid  to  each  of  the  inspectors  at- 
tending the  same  the  sum  of  thirty  pounds  per  annum  for  their  salaries. 

II.  And  whereas  it  will  be  of  great  advantage  to  many  of  the  inhabitants  of 
the  said  county  if  warehouses  for  the  inspection  of  tobacco  were  erected  on  the 
land  of  the  honourable  Phillip  Ludwell  Lee,  esquire,  at  a place  called  Stratford 
landing,  in  the  said  county:  Be  it  further  enacted,  by  the  authrity  aforesaid,. 
That  from  and  after  the  passing  of  this  act  public  warehouses  for  the  inspection 
of  tobacco  shall  be  kept  on  the  land  of  the  said  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  esquire,  at 
the  place  called  Stratford  landing,  in  the  said  county  of  Westmoreland;  and 
that  there  shall  be  paid  to  each  of  the  inspectors  attending  the  same  the  sum 
of  twenty-five  pounds  per  annum  for  their  salaries. 

III.  And  whereas  much  of  the  tobacco  that  used  to  be  carried  to  Nominy 
warehouses,  in  the  said  county  of  Westmoreland,  will  be  probably  carried  to 
the  warehouses  to  be  erected  at  Stratford  landing,  and  the  business  of  the  in- 
spectors at  Nominy  much  lessened,  thereby:  Be  it  further  enacted,  by  the  au- 
thority aforesaid,  That  from  and  after  the  passing  of  this  act  the  salaries  of  the 
inspectors  at  Nominy  warehouses  shall  be  only  thirty  pounds  per  annum 
each.  . . 

The  Court  Orders  of  the  Westmoreland  County  Records  of  Novem- 
ber 27,  1759,  also  contain  references  to  Stratford  Landing: 

Motion  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  ordered  that  John  Martin,  Lawrence 
Butler  and  Benjamin  Weeks  Gents,  view  the  Place  proposed  by  sd.  Lee  to 
Erect  and  Build  a warff  at  Stratford  Landing  Warehouse  and  make  report. 

Motion  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  ordered  that  he  do  keep  the  two  roads 
from  his  upper  and  Lower  Gates  to  Stratford  Warehouse  in  Lawfull  repair 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATER ERONT 


131 


and  the  sd.  Lee  is  Exempted  from  clearing  any  roads  in  Washington  Parish 
Whatsoever.  . . 

Motion  of  Phillip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  at  Nov.  Court  last,  It  was  ordered  that 
Jno.  Martin,  Lawrence  Butler  and  Benj.  Weeks,  Gents,  do  view  the  Place  pro- 
posed by  the  sd.  Lee  to  Erect  a Warff  at  Stratford  Warehouse  and  report  &c. — 
Who  now  return  their  report,  to  wit — Nov.  28,  1759— In  Obedience  to  an 
order  of  Court  we  the  subscribers  have  viewed  a place  proposed  for  the  Build- 
ing of  a Warff  at  Stratford  Warehouse  find  it  between  two  and  three  feet 
Water  near  ninety  yards  out  and  about  four  foot  one  Hundred  yards  hard 
Bottom — Lawrence  Butler,  John  Martin.  Whereupon  it  is  considered  bv  the 
Court  that  there  be  a Warff  Erected  agreeable  thereto. 

Ordered  that  Richard  Lee  and  Aug.  Washington  Gents,  view  the  Ware- 
houses at  Nominy  and  Stratford  Landing. 

On  January  26,  1762  was  given  The  Order  for  appointing  persons  to  agree 
with  Workmen  to  build  a Wharf  at  Stratford  Landing  for  Reasons  appearing 
to  the  Court  is  discharged  and  it  is  ordered  that  Benjamen  Weeks,  John  Martin 
and  Thos.  Chilton,  Jr.  Gents,  do  perform  the  Same  and  make  Report  to  the 
Court. 

In  1763,  Edward  Sanford  and  Richard  Muse  Inspectors  at  Stratford  Land- 
ing Warehouse  pursuant  to  Law  made  oath  to  an  acct.  of  outstanding  Transfer 
Receipts  for  Tob[acco],  amounting  to  1246  pounds. 

Thus  for  a period  of  several  years  Stratford  Landing  had  a certain 
precedence  over  other  Potomac  landings  and  must  have  been  as  busy  a 
'mart  of  trade”  in  a local  or  county  way  as  any  in  the  Colony.  The  ex- 
tent of  its  commerce  was  hardly  comparable  to  that  of  the  Virginia  vil- 
lages which  were  fast  growing  into  towns:  Williamsburg,  Norfolk, 
Fredericksburg,  Richmond,  or  Alexandria;  but  it  gave  needed  service  to 
the  planters  and  small  farmers  of  Westmoreland. 

During  these  years  there  was  also  considerable  activity  at  the  Strat- 
ford mills,  to  judge  from  the  references  for  payment  for  millwork  in 
the  Philip  Lee  inventories.  The  incident  from  the  Court  Orders  refer- 
ring to  a negro  slave’s  breaking  into  the  Stratford  store  is  dated  August 
13,  1763:  "Tom  Limerick,  a negro  man  Slave  belonging  to  the  Honble 
Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  with  force  and  arms  &c.  feloniously  broke  and 
entered  a house  belonging  to  the  sd.  Lee  and  then  and  there  did  steal 
take  and  carry  away  pieces  of  Spanish  Silver  of  the  value  of  5s,  and  also 
the  same  day  and  year  did  steal  take  and  carry  away  from  the  store 
of  the  sd.  Lee  a piece  of  Sail  cloth,  3s,  and  one  Tressure  note  value  of 
Is.  Opinion  of  the  Court  that  sd.  Tom  Limerick  is  guilty,  therefore  it 
is  considered  by  the  Court  that  the  sd.  Tom.  Limerick  be  burnt  in  the 
left  hand,  which  being  done  in  the  presence  of  the  Court  he  is  dis- 
charged from  his  Imprisonment.” 


The  site  of  Stratford  Landing. 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT  133 

During  this  period  a few  boats  were  evidently  built  at  Stratford 
Landing.  The  boats  and  fishing  equipment  mentioned  in  Philip  Lee’s 


inventory  for  1776  are: 

1 boat  £ 15 

1 pr.  Chain  Wheels  25/ 

1 Vessel  on  the  Stocks  £ 250 

One  Boat  at  the  Shop  Yard  £ 25 

387  yds.  Sail  Cloth  £ 50 

1 Bestle  & Maul  5/ 

1 Old  Sein  & Ropes  80/ 


However,  ship  building  on  any  considerable  scale  did  not  exist  in 
eighteenth  century  Virginia. 

In  1769,  about  ten  years  after  they  were  built,  the  warehouses  at 
Stratford  Landing  were  destroyed,  presumably  by  fire.  The  following 
year  efforts  were  made  to  reestablish  them,  but  opposition  developed 
among  a group  of  freeholders  and  merchants  of  Westmoreland.  Philip 
Lee  was  not  a popular  figure  in  his  county  or  in  Williamsburg,  and  the 
petition  for  the  rebuilding  of  the  warehouses  proved  unsuccessful. 

Perhaps  the  brightest  and  most  picturesque  aspect  of  Stratford  water- 
front were  the  family  boats,  the  visiting  to  and  fro  between  the  plan- 
tations on  those  favorite  roads  of  the  old  planters,  the  river  ways.  No 
description  of  the  Lee  boats  has  survived,  but  Fithian  tells  about  some 
belonging  to  their  neighbors. 

Such  wealthy  planters  as  the  Carters  on  the  Rapahannock  had  family  boats 
with  four  and  six  oars  and  awnings.  The  customs  officials  at  all  the  large  ports 
had  rowboats  and  barges.  Some  of  these  craft  were  handsomely  painted,  and  at 
New  York,  for  example,  carried  sails,  awnings,  a coxswain,  and  bargemen  in 
livery. 

Again  on  Monday,  December  13,  he  continues: 

Mr.  Carter  is  preparing  for  a Voyage  in  his  Schooner,  the  Hariot,  to  the 
Eastern  Shore  in  Maryland,  for  Oysters:  there  are  of  the  party,  Mr.  Carter, 
Captain  Walker  Colonel  R'ichd.  Lee  and  Mr.  Lancelot  Lee.  With  Sailors  to 
work  the  vessel.  . . . The  long-Boat  came,  well  furnished  with  a large  Awning, 
and  rowed  with  four  Oars.  . . . 

Before  the  Revolution  and  for  several  years  following,  dances  were 
given  at  Stratford  Landing.  One  or  two  old  barges  were  moored  fast 
to  the  wharf  and  lighted  with  ships’  lanterns.  Philip  Lee’s  band  of 
negro  musicians  played  for  the  dancers.  This  is  one  of  the  reminiscences 
of  Charles  Carter  Lee — one  of  the  Stratford  customs  described  to  him 
by  his  father — 

This  is  the  Potomac  of  the  landings — of  the  old  wharves  supported  by  the 
leaning  piles  and  protected  at  their  corners  by  the  high  cable-lashed  clusters  of 


134 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


stout  oak;  of  matchless  romance  and  history;  of  the  adventurers  and  planters; 
of  the  clipper  ships  from  England  and  the  Spanish  Main,  the  frigates  of  war 
times,  and  the  schooners  and  sloops  and  gilling  skiffs;  of  the  long  stretches  of 
leisurely  peace  over  an  almost  unbroken  span  of  three  hundred  years.  . . . The 
landings  are  frequent,  and  the  way  to  their  pilings  leads  up  many  a meandering 
creek.7 

From  Stratford  Landing  the  onlooker  saw  history  being  made.  In  the 
spring  of  1744  the  members  of  the  Lancaster  Commission  gathered  there 
— as  gallant  a company  of  Virginians  as  the  "Knights  of  the  Golden 
Horseshoe”  who,  not  so  many  years  before,  had  set  forth  from  Wil- 
liamsburg under  the  leadership  of  Governor  Alexander  Spotswood  and 
had  penetrated  the  veils  of  mist  beyond  the  distant  hills  and  discovered 
the  Blue  Ridge  Mountains.  The  expedition  from  Stratford,  under  the 
leadership  of  Thomas  Lee — of  even  greater  historic  import  and  wider 
horizons — secured  for  England  and  English  settlement  the  lands  of  the 
Iroquois  west  of  the  Alleghenies. 

The  Treaty  of  Lancaster  has  already  been  referred  to.  Its  relevance 
to  Stratford  Landing  is  that  here  was  the  point  of  embarkation.  A daily 
record  of  the  interesting  events  was  kept  by  the  secretary  of  the  Virginia 
Commission,  William  Black  of  Montross,  Scotland,  a recent  graduate 
of  the  University  of  Aberdeen.  He  gives  a vivid  picture  of  that  morning 
of  May  17,  when  the  voyagers  set  sail: 

This  Morning  at  9 of  the  Clock,  in  Company  with  the  Hon'ble  Commis- 
sioners, and  the  Gentlemen  of  their  Levies,  Colonel  John  Taylor  [Tayloe], 
Jun’r,  Presley  Thornton,  Warren  Lewis,  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  James  Littlepage, 
and  Robert  Brooke,  Esquire,  I Embarked  on  Board  the  Margaret  Yacht  lying 
off  Stratford  on  Potomac,  and  about  10  minutes  after,  was  under  sail  with  a 
small  Breeze  of  Wind  at  S.  W.  One  Jack  Ensign  and  Pennon  flying.  After 
the  Vessel  had  got  way,  with  the  Trumpet  we  hailed  the  Company  (who  came 
to  the  Water-side  to  see  us  on  Board)  with  Fare-you-well,  who  returned  the 
Complement,  wishing  us  a Good  Voyage  and  safe  Return,  for  which,  on  the 
part  of  the  Company,  I gave  them  Thanks  with  the  discharge  of  our  Blunder- 
buss. 

As  farr  as  I could  observe  the  Gentlemen  and  Ladies  on  the  Sandy  Bank, 
we  had  full  Sails,  but  on  loosing  the  Sight  of  them,  or  on  their  retiring,  we  lost 
our  Wind,  which  made  me  conclude,  the  Gentle  Gale  we  then  had  was  nothing 
else  but  the  tender  Wishes  of  the  Women  for  their  Husbands,  and  the  Af- 
fectionate Concern  of  the  Mothers  for  their  Sons,  Breath’d  after  us  in  Gentle 
Sighs. 

With  mid-century,  there  came  a time  when  the  family  at  Stratford 
and  the  neighbors  for  miles  around  must  have  gathered  together  at  Strat- 

Quotations  5.  6,  7 in  this  chapter  are  from  Potomac  Landings,  by  Paul  Wilstach.  Copyright 
1932.  Used  by  special  permission  of  the  publishers.  The  Bobbs-Merrill  Company. 


THE  PLANTATION  AND  THE  WATERFRONT 


135 


ford  Landing.  That  was  a day  in  March,  1755,  when  the  brave  sight  of 
Braddock’s  Army  sailing  up  the  river  from  Hampton  stirred  the  hearts 
of  the  Virginians.  The  British  ships  and  transports- — pennons,  flags, 
and  Jack  ensigns  flying— rode  the  broad  waters.  On  deck  were  the 
proud  general  and  his  two  regiments  from  Ireland  in  their  scarlet  uni- 
forms, his  artillerymen,  and  "handy  marines.”  They  were  to  disembark 
at  Alexandria  for  the  long  trek  into  the  Pennsylvania  wilderness.  But 
only  four  months  later  the  gaily  welcomed  troopers  drifted  back  past 
Stratford  Landing,  flags  at  halfmast,  only  the  wraith  of  a regiment. 
After  the  massacre  at  Fort  Duquesne  they  had  left  their  dead — fully 
two-thirds  of  their  number — buried  with  their  general  in  the  primeval 
forest  beside  the  Monongahela. 

More  than  a generation  afterwards,  in  the  last  years  of  the  American 
Revolution,  Richard  Henry  Lee  wrote  repeatedly  to  the  Governor  of 
Virginia  and  to  the  Commissioner  of  the  War  Office  at  Richmond  for 
arms  and  equipment,  "the  necessary  defences  which  can  alone  secure 
both  public  and  treasure.”  In  a letter  to  the  Governor  written  at  Chan- 
tilly he  said:  "Since  my  arrival  from  Congress  in  1779  I have  used  every 
possible  means  to  get  the  militia  of  Westmoreland  well  armed,  as  the 
people  were  exposed  for  40  miles  along  the  Shores  of  Potomac  to  be 
plundered  & injured  by  the  small  piratical  vessels  of  the  enemv  & of 
the  Tories.”8 

On  the  ninth  of  April,  1781,  Stratford  Landing  was  the  scene  of  an 
engagement  between  the  crews  of  three  British  men-of-war  and  a com- 
pany of  Westmoreland  militia  assembled  and  captained  by  Richard 
Henry  Lee.  In  the  skirmish  Lee  was  injured  through  the  falling  of  his 
horse.  The  description  of  this  historic  incident  of  the  Revolution  in 
Virginia,  written  by  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee’s  eldest  son,  Major  Henry 
Lee,'1  has  a quality  reminiscent  of  Sir  Walter  Scott: 

During  the  war  of  the  revolution,  and,  I believe,  while  Mr.  Jefferson  was 
Governor  of  Virginia,  a British  squadron  which  had  been  scouring  the  waters 
and  wasting  the  shores  of  the  Chesapeake,  taking  advantage  of  a favourable 
breeze,  suddenly  came  to,  off  the  coast  of  Virginia,  where  the  majestic  cliffs  of 
Westmoreland  overlook  the  stormy  and  sea-like  Potomac.  Mr.  [Richard  Henry] 
Lee  was  at  that  time  on  one  of  those  visits  to  his  family  with  which,  from  the 
permanent  sittings  of  Congress,  the  members  were  of  necessity  occasionally 
accommodated.  He  hastily  collected  from  the  nearest  circle  of  his  neighbours  a 
small  and  ill-armed  band,  repaired  at  their  head  to  the  point  on  which  the  enemy 
had  commenced  a descent,  and  without  regard  to  his  inferiority  of  means  and 


'From  Lee  Papers,  Pennsylvania  Historical  Society.  Letter  not  collated  with  original. 
"Observations  of  the  Writings  of  Thomas  Jefferson. 


136 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


numbers,  instantly  attacked  them.  He  drove  the  party  on  shore  back  into  their 
barges,  and  held  them  aloof,  until  the  ships  were  brought  to  cover  the  landing 
with  round  shot  and  shells,  which  he  had  no  means  of  returning.  Then  as  he 
was  the  first  in  advance  so  he  was  the  last  to  retire,  as  men  who  were  with 
him  have  since  his  death  often  said.  Several  of  the  hostile  party  were  killed  or 
wounded,  among  them  an  officer  whom  they  carried  off.  One  man  they  buried 
on  the  shore.  In  a grove  of  aged  beech  trees,  not  far  from  Mr.  Lee’s  residence, 
rest  the  remains  of  this  unknown  but  unforgotten  foe.  The  belated  homeward- 
going hunter,  as  he  drags  his  tired  steps  along  that  proud  and  melancholy 
coast,  hastens  to  pass  this  grave  without  a name.  His  comrade  is  awed  into 
silence,  his  hounds  with  startled  instinct  follow  close  at  his  heels,  he  hears  a 
deeper  moan  in  the  night  wind,  a more  sullen  murmur  in  the  angry  wave,  and 
overcome  with  a pleasing  terror  continues  his  quickened  pace,  until  the  course 
of  a limpid  stream  is  crossed.  Then  he  talks  again  with  his  companion;  tells  of 
the  men  who  when  his  sire  was  young,  were  the  pride  of  Westmoreland;  of 
Washington’s  renown  in  arms,  of  Lee’s  fame  for  eloquence;  how  the  first  went 
abroad  to  distant  battles  and  high  command;  how  the  second  returned  from 
solemn  councils  to  his  poor  but  hospitable  hills,  delighted  to  disperse  among 
his  neighbours  the  fruits  of  wisdom  and  benevolence. 


BOOK  TWO 

THE  PERIOD  OF  THE  AMERICAN  REVOLUTION 
AND  ITS  AFTERMATH 
(1760-90) 


CHAPTER  VII:  THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND 

UNCHANGEABLE 


1 

1ATE  in  the  month  of  February,  1766,  according  to  a local  chronicler,' 
"Thomas  Ludwell  Lee  is  known  to  have  sent  a boy  to  his  brother 
Richard  Henry  Lee  with  a letter  which  read:  'We  propose  to  be 
in  Leedstown2  in  the  afternoon  of  the  27th  inst.,  where  we  expect  to 
meet  those  who  will  come  from  your  way.  It  is  proposed  that  all  who 
have  swords  or  pistols  will  ride  with  them,  and  those  who  choose,  a 
firelock.  This  will  be  a fine  opportunity  to  effect  the  scheme  of  an  asso- 
ciation, and  I would  be  glad  if  you  would  think  of  a plan.’  ” 

There  was  evidently  fear  of  violent  opposition  from  Tories  in  West- 
moreland County  to  any  meeting  in  protest  against  the  Stamp  Act.  At 
this  time,  and  for  years  to  come,  in  Virginia  and  in  every  other  colony 
as  well,  the  patriots  were  in  the  minority.  Everywhere,  families  were 
divided.  Loyalists  were  in  the  saddle. 

The  meeting  at  Leedstown,  proposed  by  Thomas  Ludwell  Lee  and 
called  by  Richard  Henry,  marked  the  beginning  of  the  political  life 
of  the  Stratford  Lees  as  a family.  It  was  the  first  time  the  four  brothers 
appeared  publicly  together  to  denounce  measures  which  they  held  in- 
imical to  the  Colonies.  But  Philip  Lee,  the  master  of  Stratford,  being 
of  the  King’s  Council,  was  a loyalist  and  so  remained  neutral.  It  is  not 
recorded  that  he  supported  his  brothers  in  any  way  or  affixed  his  signa- 
ture to  a single  one  of  the  important  official  documents  which  they  drew 
up.  Nor  is  it  on  record  that  he  opposed  them — or  other  patriots — at  any 
time. 

Ever  since  the  passage  of  the  Stamp  Act,  "a  fatal  blow  to  the  liberty 
of  America,”  the  Stratford  Lees  had  united  with  Patrick  Henry  and 
other  Virginia  patriots  in  opposing  the  measure.  Richard  Henry  wrote 
to  Arthur  in  England,  July  4,  1765: 

Every  man  in  America  hath  much  reason  to  lament  with  you,  the  loss  of 
American  liberty.  As  bad  indeed  as  Egyptian  bondage,  is  now  become  the  fate 
of  every  inhabitant  of  America,  by  the  mother  country  being  converted  into  an 

‘Wright,  T.  R.  P>.,  Westmoreland  County,  J'irgima,  p.  41. 

"Leedstown  was  located  on  the  Rappahannock  several  miles  across  the  country  from  Strat- 
ford Plantation.  It  was  the  chief  trading  mart  for  Westmoreland  County  through  the  first 
three-quarters  of  the  eighteenth  century,  and  was  one  of  the  principal  ports  of  the  Rappahan 
nock  River,  and  the  central  postal  station  for  the  county.  It  stood  on  the  site  of  an  ancient 
Indian  settlement  and.  according  to  Bishop  Meade  was  once  a place  of  note  in  this  part  of 
Virginia:  "It  was  doubtless  named,  either  by  the  Fairfaxes  or  Washingtons,  after  the  town  of 
Leeds,  in  Yorkshire,  near  which  both  of  their  ancestral  families  lived.  This  in  Virginia  was 
a place  of  much  trade  in  tobacco  and  other  things.  Its  shipping  was  very  considerable.  ...  At 
this  place  did  they  [the  patriots  of  Westmorelandl  resolve  to  oppose  the  Stamp  Act,  nor  allow 
any  citizen  of  Westmoreland  to  deal  in  stamps.  This  is  a true  part  of  the  American  history.” 

[139] 


140  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

arbitrary,  cruel,  and  oppressive  step-dame.  But  this  most  unjust  proceeding 
[the  stamp  act]  against  us,  should  instruct  every  American,  that  as  liberty  can 
never  be  supported  without  arts  and  learning,  a diligent  attention  to  those 
should  be  the  ruling  object,  with  every  thinking  man.3 

In  the  fall  of  1765,  the  Stamp  Act  Congress,  initiated  by  Benjamin 
Franklin,  James  Otis,  Patrick  Henry,  and  Christopher  Gadsden,  set  in 
motion  the  concerted  protest  that  spread  throughout  Virginia  and  other 
colonies.  Thomas  Ludwell  Lee’s  call  for  the  Leedstown  meeting  was 
sent  abroad  through  the  county  by  Richard  Henry.  Their  cousin  and 
former  guardian,  Henry  Lee  of  Leesylvania,  and  his  brother  Richard, 
"Squire”  Lee  of  Lee  Hall,  joined  them  in  the  protest  which  Richard 
Henry  framed.  The  call  was  answered,  in  person,  by  more  than  one 
hundred  citizens  of  the  county.  They  came  armed. 

Bray’s  Church,  a brick  structure  on  the  outskirts  of  the  town,  high 
on  the  bank  of  the  river,  was  the  meeting-place.  The  Westmoreland 
patriots  bound  themselves  in  this  meeting  to  defend  each  other  with 
their  lives  and  fortunes  in  the  execution  of  the  resolves  drawn  up  by 
Richard  Henry  Lee.  These  resolutions  stated,  in  effect: 

First:  That  allegiance  to  the  sovereign  and  obedience  to  the  law, 
would  be  rendered  only  in  so  far  as  was  consistent  with  the  preservation 
of  constitutional  rights  and  liberty: 

Second:  That  trial  by  jury  and  taxation  by  representatives  of  the  tax- 
payers’ choice  were  fundamental  rights,  the  denial  of  which  they  as  sub- 
scribers would  go  to  any  extremity  "'to  stigmatize  and  punish”: 

Third:  That  every  faculty  would  be  exerted  to  prevent  the  execution 
of  the  Stamp  Act  in  Virginia.  The  "abandoned  wretch”  who  abetted 
the  Act  was  pronounced  in  danger: 

Fourth:  That,  as  subscribers,  they  would  endeavour  to  gain  signers 
for  the  resolves  and  put  them  into  practice: 

Fifth:  That  attacks  on  the  life  or  liberty  of  members  would  be  jointly 
repelled. 

Thus  at  the  Leedstown  meeting  open  resistance  to  Great  Britain  was 
declared  in  the  W estmor  eland  Resolves,  and  signed  by  one  hundred 
and  fifteen  men.  Among  the  signatures  are  those  of  three  brothers  of 
George  Washington  and  five  Lees.  This  historic  document  was  the 
first  of  the  large  number  of  county,  state,  and  national  papers  of  import 
to  American  history  to  be  initiated,  prepared,  and  signed  by  the  Strat- 
ford Lees. 

Chantilly’s  heights  on  Stratford  Plantation  became  a center  of  Revo- 

fMemoir  of  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Vol.  I,  pp.  32-33. 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE  141 

lutionary  activities.  So  were  other  plantations  of  the  Lees  and  their 
kinspeople  in  different  parts  of  Virginia:  Bellevue,  Menokin,  Lee  Hall, 
Freestone  Point,  Leesylvania,  Green  Spring,  Marmion,  and  Chatham. 
Together  the  Stratford  Lees  represented  in  the  Council  and  the  House  of 
Burgesses:  Westmoreland,  Stafford,  Prince  William,  Loudoun,  and, 
later,  Richmond  counties.  Consequently  in  Williamsburg,  the  little 
colonial  capital,  the  Lee  kindred  and  their  friends  found  a central  meet- 
ing point.  Here  they  met  regularly  "in  the  season.”  The  place  the  family 
assumed  in  Westmoreland  County  in  1766  it  continued  to  hold  in  the 
Colony  and  later  in  the  nation  for  more  than  a quarter  of  a century.  As 
far  north  as  Philadelphia,  the  Lee  family  had  in  Shippen  House,  the 
home  of  their  sister  Alice,  headquarters  for  their  revolutionary  work. 
Across  the  seas  at  Tower  Hill  in  London  was  William,  established  there 
soon  after  the  signing  of  the  Leedstown  Resolutions.  In  London,  too, 
lived  Arthur,  in  lodgings  at  the  Temple.  From  these  distant  centers, 
the  Lees  could  conduct  their  activities  in  behalf  of  the  colonies. 

Through  the  strange  working  of  destiny,  members  of  this  single 
American  family  were  thus  placed  in  widely  separated,  yet  strategic 
points,  in  America  and  Europe  at  the  very  time  the  country’s  need  for 
their  services  was  greatest. 

Because  they  were  so  situated  it  was  possible  to  develop  a plan  for 
furthering  colonial  union  which  had  originated  with  Richard  Henry 
and  his  younger  brothers  at  Stratford:  the  Secret  Correspondence  Com- 
mittee. A preliminary  step  for  colonial  union  was  taken  in  1744  bv 
their  father,  when,  with  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster,  three  of  the  colonies 
united  against  a common  danger.  Another  step  was  taken  in  1765,  with 
the  Stamp  Act  Congress.  Still  another  was  this  plan  of  the  Lees’  cor- 
respondence committee.  Under  cover  of  personal  letters,  William  and 
Arthur  Lee  wrote  from  London  to  their  brothers  at  Stratford  minutely 
detailed  records  of  every  event  in  England  and  in  European  centers  be- 
tween 1768  and  1779  which  had  bearing  on  the  status  of  the  colonies. 
The  letter  from  William  Lee  written  from  London,  February  6,  1770, 
to  Richard  Henry,  quoted  in  H.  Lee’s  The  Campaign  of  1781  in  the 
Carolinas,  is  one  of  many  hundreds  illustrating  this: 

My  Dear  Brother, 

I have  just  stole  a moment  to  give  you  a little  touch  of  politics;  and  as  I 
expect  more  trom  you  and  Frank  tor  the  good  of  America,  than  any  others  in 
Virginia,  the  subject  will  be  chiefly  on  American  affairs;  with  this  preamble, 
where  facts  are  mentioned,  you  may  depend  on  their  authenticity;  tor  which 
reason  egotisms  will  perhaps  be  too  frequent,  and  in  matters  ot  opinion  you 


A relic  of  the  skirmish  at  Stratford  Landing  during  the  Revolution. 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE  143 

may  give  what  credit  you  please  to  them.  Having  already  been  in  some  respect 
hurt,  by  my  name  being  indiscreetly  mentioned  to  captains  of  ships  and  others, 
as  a political  intelligencer,  I can  trust  only  your  discretion,  not  to  do  it  unless 
there  should  be  a necessity  to  authenticate  any  fact.  Ministerial  changes  the 
papers  are  full  of,  that  is,  all  but  the  king’s-men  and  the  Bedford-men  are  out. 
Lord  North  is  fixed  in  the  Duke  of  Grafton’s  saddle;  and  though  every  party  in 
the  kingdom  is  firmly  united  against  the  present  set,  there  is  no  prospect  of  a 
change.  I am  apt  to  think  myself,  the  minority  cannot  succeed,  owing  to  their 
union  with  G.  Grenville,  against  whom  there  is,  in  the  Princess  Dowager  and 
the  King,  such  an  implacable  resentment,  that  he  never  can  come  in.  If  he  does, 
I give  up  my  faith  in  the  king's  obstinacy.  The  present  ministry  are,  from 
principle,  enemies  to  all  political  liberty,  and  consequently  are  enemies  to 
America.  They  have  declared  for  repealing  the  American  duties  on  paper,  paint, 
and  glass,  as  being  a tax  on  British  manufactures;  but  as  they  are  very  far  from 
the  design  of  giving  up,  or  keeping  dormant,  the  parliamentary  right  of  taxing 
America;  the  duty  on  tea  is  to  be  retained  as  an  absolute  fixed  precedent,  with 
the  other  revenue  acts,  viz.  the  4th  and  6th  of  George  III.  chapters  1 “3th  and 
1 6th,  the  commission  of  customs,  admiralty  courts,  &c.  Indeed  they  say,  that 
the  mighty  boon  of  repealing  the  duties  on  paper,  paint,  and  glass,  is  to  be 
with  restrictions;  what  those  restrictions  may  be,  we  are  left  to  conjecture.  But 
from  some  hints,  they  are  supposed  to  be,  either  a restraint  on  your  manufac- 
tures, or  making  your  associations  against  British  manufactures  felony  or 
treason. 

Lords  Camden  and  Chatham  are  greater  than  ever;  the  last  is  really  divine. 
It  is  impossible  for  me  to  give  you  any  idea  of  his  sublimity.  Smollett’s  character 
of  his  eloquence,  will  give  you  some  faint  notion  of  it.  His  sentiments  and  ex- 
pressions of  America  are  the  same  as  before.  The  2d  mst.  the  House  of  Lords 
sate  from  two  o’clock  in  the  evening,  till  past  iwo  in  the  morning,  later  than 
ever  was  known.  Lord  Chatham  astonished  even  those  that  had  known  him  for 
near  forty  years;  though  he  was  labouring  under  a fit  of  the  gout.  Lords  Mans- 
field. Marchment,  Egmont,  and  all  the  rest,  fell  before  him  like  grass  before  a 
keen  scythe.  But  ’twas  all  in  vain — a question  involving  annihilation  to  the 
constitution,  was  carried  against  him  by  a great  majority. 

February  10th. — Little  alteration  in  American  affairs,  only  instead  of  their 
being  heard  the  12th,  in  the  House  of  Commons,  they  are  put  off,  and  no  time 
fixed  for  them.  Most  think  the  tea  will  not  be  repealed,  unless  the  India  Com- 
pany should  carry  it  in  their  plan,  which  the  ministry  now  say  they  will  not 
agree  to.  The  minority  strengthen  every  day;  and  things  seem  to  be  near  a 
crisis;  the  Lords’  protest  makes  every  one  think  very  seriously.  If  the  high  hand 
in  government  continues,  a spirit  will  very  soon  be  raised  that  may  burn  some 
people’s  fingers. 

Be  steady  in  America,  and  explicit  in  your  demands.  Now  is  the  only  time  to 
insist  firmly  on  them  all.  South  Carolina  has  done  nobly;  this  week  the  bill  of 
Rights-men  have  received  £1500  sterling,  sent  them  by  the  assembly,  to  assist 
them  in  supporting  the  glorious  cause  they  have  undertaken. 

My  love  to  you  all.  Adieu.  William  Lee. 


144  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

By  such  close  observation  and  careful  transcription,  William  and 
Arthur  Lee  made  themselves  invaluable  intelligence  officers  of  the  colo- 
nies. The  usefulness  of  such  exact  information  about  the  politics  and 
personalities  of  England  and  other  European  capitals  can  scarcely  be 
overestimated.  It  was  a contribution  of  first  importance  to  the  revolu- 
tionary cause. 

Once  this  information  reached  them,  the  Lees  in  America  set  skillfully 
about  its  dissemination  in  every  colony  through  their  letters  to  men  of 
importance.  They  hoped  also  to  get  the  essentials  before  the  colonial 
public  by  writing  for  the  public  prints  and  by  inducing  their  influential 
friends  to  do  so.  According  to  R.  H.  Lee  in  his  Memoir  of  Richard 
Henry  Lee: 

. . . General  Gadsden,  of  South  Carolina,  a few  years  before  his  death, 
remarked,  while  addressing  an  assemblage  of  citizens  on  the  fourth  of  July, 
that  Richard  Henry  Lee  had  invited  him,  to  become  a member  of  a private 
corresponding  society  as  early  as  the  year  ’68,  which,  Mr.  Lee  informed  him,  he 
was  endeavouring  to  establish,  between  the  influential  men  in  the  colonies.  Ele 
stated,  that  Mr.  Lee  described  his  object  to  be,  to  obtain  a mutual  pledge  from 
the  members,  to  write  for  the  public  journals  or  papers,  of  their  respective 
colonies,  and  converse  with,  and  inform  the  people,  on  the  subject  of  their 
rights,  and  their  wrongs,  and  upon  all  seasonable  occasions,  to  impress  upon 
their  minds,  the  necessity  of  a struggle  with  Great  Britain,  for  the  ultimate 
establishment  of  independence. 

The  Secret  Correspondence  Committee  was  in  unofficial  operation  in 
Virginia  for  several  years  before  its  adoption  by  the  Colony  in  1773, 
at  Richard  Henry’s  instance,  as  a permanent  committee  to  spread  the 
doctrine  of  resistance.  In  1772,  an  identical  plan,  initiated  by  Samuel 
Adams,  was  set  in  motion  in  Massachusetts  and  was  functioning  in 
every  town  in  that  Colony.  These  committees  proved  to  be  not  only 
the  means  of  obtaining  a vast  amount  of  information  but  also  of  setting 
it  to  work  like  yeast  in  the  public  mind.  Today  this  activity  would  un- 
doubtedly be  termed  a highly  efficient  intelligence  division  and  propa- 
ganda bureau.  It  was  chiefly  the  work  of  the  Lees  of  Stratford. 

By  the  spring  of  1774  "Politicks  were  the  topic,”  says  Fithian,  "and 
indeed  the  Gentlemen  seemed  warm.”  The  sympathy  of  all  the  colo- 
nies was  turned  toward  Boston  when  the  King  and  Parliament  enacted 
the  Boston  Port  Bill,  closing  the  harbor  to  commerce  and  setting  a 
stranglehold  on  the  city’s  chief  financial  resources.  The  port  was  to  be 
closed  on  June  1st.  On  May  24,  the  Burgesses  met  in  Williamsburg,  at 
the  Capitol.  They  passed  a resolution  expressing  sympathy  with  the 
people  of  Boston,  and  declaring  it  "highly  necessary  that  the  said  first 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE 


145 


day  of  June  next  be  set  apart  by  the  members  of  this  house,  as  a day  of 
fasting,  humiliation,  and  prayer,  devoutly  to  implore  the  Divine  inter- 
position for  averting  the  heavy  calamity  which  threatens  destruction  to 
our  civil  rights,  and  the  evils  of  civil  war.” 

Edmund  Randolph  says  of  this  move: 

The  style,  in  which  the  fast  was  recommended  was  too  bold  to  be  neglected 
by  the  governor,  as  an  effusion,  which  would  evaporate  on  paper.  It  was  a 
cement  among  the  colonies  unconnected  as  they  were  in  situation,  and  dissimilar 
as  they  were  in  manners,  habits,  ideas  of  religion  and  government  from  the 
states  abounding  in  slaves.  It  brought  home  to  the  bosom  of  each  colony  the 
apprehensions  of  every  other;  and  if  in  the  hour  of  reflection,  the  ministry  could 
have  foreseen  the  approach  of  a closer  union  among  the  colonies,  these  resolu- 
tions might  have  been  well  interpreted  into  the  seed  of  a revolution.  The  gov- 
ernor therefore  resorted  to  his  power  of  dissolving  the  assembly;  a power 
which  hindered  the  circulation  of  offensive  matter  under  the  legislative  seal,  but 
inoculated  the  whole  colony  with  the  poison,  against  which  it  was  directed.  . . . 

The  fast  was  obeyed  throughout  Virginia  with  such  rigour  and  scruples,  as 
to  interdict  the  tasting  of  food  between  the  rising  and  setting  sun.  With  the 
remembrance  of  the  king,  horror  was  associated;  and  in  churches  as  well  as  in 
the  circles  of  social  conversation,  he  seemed  to  stalk  like  the  Arch  enemy  of 
mankind.4 

Fithian  writes: 

. . . The  lower  Class  of  People  here  are  in  a tumult  on  the  account  of  Reports 
from  Boston,  many  of  them  expect  to  be  pressed  and  compelled  to  go  and  fight 
the  Britains!  Evening  I asked  the  Colonel  if  he  proposed  to  observe  the  fast, 
and  attend  Sermon  to-morrow;  he  answered  that  "No  one  must  go  from  hence 
to  Church,  or  observe  the  Fast  at  all.”  By  this,  (for  it  is  hard  to  know  his  opinion 
from  any  thing  he  declares)  I conclude  he  is  a courtier.  . . . Towards  evening 
Squire  Lee  call’d  in,  and  brought  a late  London  NewsPaper  in  which  we  are 
informed  that  another  Act  of  Parliament  has  pass’d  taking  from  the  People  of 
Boston  all  power  of  trying  any  Soldier,  or  Person  whether  for  commiting  any 
Crime:  and  obliging  all  such  offenders  to  be  sent  home  for  legal  Tryal.  Heaven 
only  knows  where  these  tumults  will  End!  He  informed  us  likewise  that  last 
Saturday  in  Richmond  (our  neighbor  County)  the  people  drest  and  burnt  with 
great  marks  of  Detestation  the  infamous  Lord  North.  . . . 

Virginia’s  action  was  identical  with  that  of  most  of  the  colonies. 
The  first  of  June  was  a day  of  fasting  and  prayer  from  Maine  to 
Georgia.  The  church  bells  were  tolled,  flags  were  set  at  half  mast  in  the 
harbors.  All  the  colonies  sent  cattle,  grain,  produce  to  Boston.  At  last 
they  were  united  by  a persecution  which  might  at  any  time  descend  on 
every  city  on  the  coast. 

‘Edmund  Randolph’s  Essay  on  the  Revolutionary  History  of  Virginia,  1774-178 2.  Published 
under  the  auspices  of  “The  Virginians”  of  the  City  of  New  York.  In  the  Virginia  Magazine  of 
History  and  Biography.”  July,  1935,  XLVIII,  p.  214. 


Richard  Henry  Lee’s  Independence  Resolutions  introduced  in  Continental  Congress,  j/me  7,  1776. 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE  147 

The  following  day  the  Virginia  Burgesses  gathered  together  in  the 
Apollo  Room  at  the  Raleigh  Tavern — their  assembly  hall  in  the  Capitol 
having  been  closed  to  them  by  their  own  governor.  Here  they  deter- 
mined to  call  a convention  in  Williamsburg  on  August  first,  to  which 
every  county  in  the  Colony  should  send  delegates. 

At  the  convention  the  grievances  of  the  colonies  were  discussed  in 
detail,  their  rights  declared  and  action  taken  to  call  a general  congress 
of  all  the  colonies  to  meet  September  fourth  in  Philadelphia.  Dele- 
gates to  this  general  congress  were  immediately  elected.  They  included 
Peyton  Randolph,  Richard  Henry  Lee,  George  Washington,  Patrick 
Henry,  Richard  Bland,'  Benjamin  Harrison,  and  Edmund  Pendleton. 

So  the  First  Continental  Congress  was  called  into  being. 

Returning  to  Chantilly  after  the  auspicious  gathering  in  the  Raleigh 
Tavern  at  Williamsburg,  Richard  Henry  Lee  again  called  the  men  of 
Westmoreland  to  a meeting  like  that  at  Leedstown  eight  years  before. 
This  time  they  met  in  the  courthouse  at  Montross,  the  county  seat.  This 
was  a small  settlement  located  on  a part  of  land  which  had  once  been 
William  Black’s  farm,  named  Montross  from  his  home  in  Scotland. 

According  to  his  grandson,  R.  H.  Lee,  Richard  Henry  "procured  a 
very  full  meeting  of  the  inhabitants  of  Westmoreland.  And  after  ha- 
ranging them  on  the  state  of  affairs,  and  inveighing  in  bold  and  indig- 
nant terms  against  the  English  ministry,  dwelling  in  pathetic  description 
on  the  sufferings  of  their  countrymen  in  Boston,  he  proposed  several 
resolutions.  These  expressed  a warm  sympathy  for  the  people  of  that 
town,  cheered  them  by  assurances  of  support,  and  exhorted  them  to 
persevere  in  their  manly  resistance.” 

The  measures  adopted  at  this  meeting  June  22,  1774,  are  known  as 
"The  Westmoreland  Resolutions.”11  After  asserting  the  fundamental 
rights  of  taxation  by  representatives  of  the  taxpayer’s  choice,  and  brand- 
ing the  Boston  Port  Bill  as  an  attack  upon  the  liberties  of  the  British 
subjects,  the  resolutions  called  for  unity  of  action  "to  resist  the  common 
danger.”  In  expressing  sympathy  for  the  suffering  sister  Colony  of 
Massachusetts  it  was  resolved:  That  Westmoreland  County  would  join 
in  stopping  all  exports  to  and  all  imports  from  Great  Britain  and  the 
West  Indies  until  the  Port  Bill  was  repealed;  that  no  payment  of  debts 
owed  to  British  merchants  would  be  made  until  grievances  were  re- 

5Richard  Bland  resigned  and  his  place  as  delegate  was  taken  by  Francis  Light  foot  Lee. 

“The  Westmoreland  Resolutions  of  1774  are  not  to  be  confused  with  the  Westmoreland  Re- 
solves of  1766.  Both  documents  are  the  work  of  Richard  Henry  T.ee.  Memoir  of  Richard  Henry 
Lee.  I,  101-2. 


148  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

dressed:  that  no  products  except  food  were  to  be  sold,  bought,  or  trans- 
ported and  that  the  county  would  join  in  a tea  boycott.  One  hundred 
and  fifty  years  later  such  policies  are  termed  economic  sanctions. 

Thus  the  summer  of  1774  was  an  active  one  for  the  Stratford  Lees. 
As  September  fourth  and  the  First  Continental  Congress  approached, 
Patrick  Henry,  Thomas  Jefferson,  and  Richard  Henry  Lee  fired  the 
whole  Colony  with  the  spirit  of  freedom.  Samuel  Adams  referred  then 
to  Richard  Henry  as  one  of  the  "Friends  of  American  Independence 
and  Freedom.” 

All  the  colonies  excepting  Georgia  sent  delegates  to  the  Philadelphia 
Congress.  The  Virginians  wanted,  and  asked  for,  what  their  forefathers, 
the  Old  Standers  at  Jamestown  wanted,  and  took:  the  right  to  govern 
themselves  where  taxation,  trade  and  local  affairs  were  concerned,  the 
simple  rights  of  Englishmen.  Accordingly,  the  Congress  addressed  a pe- 
tition to  the  King,  another  to  the  people  of  Great  Britain,  and  a third  to 
the  people  of  Canada.  The  Congress  worked  out  an  agreement  to  attack 
England  by  refusing  all  trade  with  her.  Conservatism  ruled  every  ses- 
sion. Moderation  was  the  watchword.  The  first  Congress  stood  on 
precarious  ground.  The  twelve  colonies  represented  there  were  like 
twelve  separate  countries.  Each  had  its  own  governor,  its  separate  laws 
and  separate  form  of  government,  its  own  interests  to  look  to.  Each 
was  jealous  of  the  other.  Virginia  and  Massachusetts  had  to  step  warily. 
In  the  few  weeks  the  Congress  was  in  session,  it  accomplished  what  it 
set  out  to  do,  adjourned  early  in  October,  and  called  the  second  Con- 
tinental Congress  to  meet  in  Philadelphia  the  following  May,  1775. 

Until  the  convening  of  the  Continental  Congress,  each  one  of  the 
thirteen  colonies  had  been  in  effect  a separate  country.  But  now  a 
plan  was  evolved  by  which  the  colonies  were  to  be  drawn  together  and 
to  become  the  United  Provinces  of  North  America  with  the  city  of 
Philadelphia  their  capital.  Thus  was  real  progress  made.  The  tide  was 
coming  in. 

To  the  Lees  and  Samuel  Adams  especially,  it  was  apparent  that  the 
continued  activity  of  the  correspondence  committees  must  go  on.  Much 
would  depend  upon  the  information  and  upon  the  response  people  gave 
to  their  local  committees  working  under  the  guidance  of  the  committees 
of  correspondence.  This  meant  endless  planning  and  never  ceasing  labor 
for  the  Stratford  Lees.  By  the  new  year,  innumerable  associations  were 
forming  in  Virginia  and  in  every  other  colony,  associations  pledged  to 
oppose  by  force  of  arms  the  aggressions  of  the  King. 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE  149 

A letter  written  early  in  1775  to  William  Lee  by  Henry  Lee  of  Lee- 
syl vania  expresses  the  situation  clearly:  "The  Gentlemen  are  training 
themselves  thro’  the  Continent  every  week  and  have  raised  Companys 
who  muster  two  days  every  week  and  emulate  to  Excell  each  other  in  ye 
manual  manoeuvers  and  Evolutions  as  practised  by  the  King  of  Prussia’s 
Troops,  for  we  are  determined  on  Preserving  our  Libertys  if  necessary 
at  the  Expense  of  our  Blood,  being  resolved  not  to  survive  Slavery.” 

During  these  years  when  Philip  Lee’s  five  younger  brothers  were 
thus  "toiling  in  the  vineyard  of  liberty,”  affairs  at  the  Great  House  and 
on  the  plantation  were  steadily  improving. 

As  a member  of  the  King’s  Council,  Philip  Lee  continued  to  attend 
meetings  at  Williamsburg;  but  for  the  most  part  he  was  absorbed  in  his 
new  interests  of  a growing  family  and  in  building  up  the  stud  farm  and 
the  industrial  activities  of  the  plantation. 

i 1 i i 

Philip  and  Elizabeth  Steptoe  Lee  were  the  parents  of  two  daughters, 
Matilda  and  Flora.  Matilda  was  her  father’s  pet.  No  expense  was 
spared  in  the  education  and  training  of  the  two  little  girls.  According 
to  G.  W.  Beale: 

The  years  preceding  the  Revolution,  which  were  passed  at  Stratford  . . . 
were  probably  the  most  prosperous  in  the  history  of  this  noted  home.  The  rapid 
increase  of  the  slave  population,  the  as  yet  unwasted  fertility  of  the  soil,  and 
the  good  prices  for  tobacco,  had  tended  to  increase  largely  the  wealth  of  the 
planters.  An  educational  spirit  had  been  very  generally  fostered,  and  a larger 
proportion  of  young  men  of  collegiate  training  were  to  be  found  in  the  Colony 
than  at  any  time  previously.  In  the  culture  of  its  visitors,  the  abundance  of  its 
comforts  and  the  easy  flow  and  elegant  grace  of  its  social  life,  these  were  bright 
and  auspicious  years  in  the  Stratford  calendar.  The  proprietor  of  Stratford  at 
this  period  was  enlisted  heartily  in  various  projects  deemed  of  advantage  to  the 
agricultural  and  political  interests  of  his  fellow  colonists.  He  was  also  deeply 
interested  in  the  establishment  of  a town  in  Fairfax  county,  near  the  falls  of  the 
Potomac,  to  which  he  gave  the  name  Philee,  and  which  the  Assembly  chartered. 

Another  Virginia  town  which  Philip  Lee  founded  was  named  Matil- 
daville  in  honor  of  his  elder  daughter. 

During  1773,  the  dancing  master,  Mr.  Christian,  celebrated  in  the 
Colony,  had  a class  at  Stratford.  "...  Virginians  are  of  genuine  Blood. 
They  will  dance  or  die!”  Fithian  gives  an  interesting  series  of  descrip- 
tions and  narrations  of  this  period,  in  which  the  Philip  Lees  of  Stratford 
often  figure.  They  present  Philip  in  a more  favorable  light  than  do  the 
records  of  his  earlier  years:  he  describes  "Social  evenings:” 

When  the  candles  were  lighted,  we  all  repaired,  for  the  last  time,  into  the 


150 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


dancing-room;  first  each  couple  danced  a Minuet;  then  all  joined  as  before  in 
the  country  Dances,  these  continued  till  half  after  Seven  when  Mr.  Christian 
retired;  and  at  the  proposal  of  several,  (with  Mr.  Carters  approbation)  we 
played  Button,  to  get  Pauns  for  Redemption;  here  I could  join  with  them,  and 
indeed  it  was  carried  on  with  sprightliness,  and  Decency;  in  the  course  of  re- 
deeming my  Pauns  I had  several  Kisses  of  the  Ladies!  Early  in  the  Evening 
came  colonel  Philip  Lee,  in  a travelling  Chariot  from  Williamsburg.  Half  after 
eight  we  were  rung  in  to  Supper;  The  room  looked  luminous  and  splendid;  four 
very  large  candles  burning  on  the  table  where  we  supped;  three  others  in  differ- 
ent parts  of  the  Room;  a gay  sociable  Assembly,  and  four  well  instructed  waiters! 
So  soon  as  we  rose  from  supper,  the  Company  formed  into  a semicircle  round 
the  fire,  and  Mr.  Lee,  by  the  voice  of  the  Company  was  chosen  Pope,  and  Mr. 
Carter,  Mr.  Christian,  Mrs.  Carter,  Mrs.  Lee,  and  the  rest  of  the  company  were 
appointed  Friars,  in  the  Play  call’d  "break  the  Popes  neck.”  Here  we  had 
great  Diversion  in  the  respective  Judgments  upon  offenders,  but  we  were  all 
dismissed  by  ten,  and  retired  to  our  several  Rooms. 

Saturday , December  18.  After  Breakfast,  we  all  retired  into  the  Dancing 
Room,  and  after  the  Scholars  had  their  Lesson  singly  round  Mr.  Christian,  very 
politely,  requested  me  to  step  a Minuet;  I excused  myself,  however,  but  signified 
my  peculiar  pleasure  in  the  accuracy  of  their  performance.  There  were  sveral 
Minuets  danced  with  great  ease  and  propriety;  after  which  the  whole  company 
joined  in  country-dances,  and  it  was  indeed  beautiful  to  admiration,  to  see  such 
a number  of  young  persons,  set  off  by  dress  to  the  best  advantage,  moving  easily, 
to  the  sound  of  well  performed  Music,  and  with  perfect  regularity,  tho’  ap- 
parently in  the  utmost  Disorder.  The  Dance  continued  til  two,  we  dined  at  half 
after  three.  ...  I observe  in  the  course  of  the  lessons,  that  Mr.  Christian  is 
punctual,  and  rigid  in  his  discipline,  so  strict  indeed  that  he  stuck  two  of  the 
young  Misses  for  a fault  in  the  course  of  their  performance,  even  in  the  pres- 
ence of  the  Mother  of  one  of  them ! And  he  rebuked  one  of  the  young  Fellows 
so  highly  as  to  tell  him  he  must  alter  his  manner,  which  he  had  observed  through 
the  Course  of  the  Dance,  to  be  insolent,  and  wanton,  or  absent  himself  from  the 
School. 

Late  in  February  of  1775 — scarcely  two  months  before  the  British 
marched  into  Lexington  and  the  first  battles  of  the  Revolution  were 
fought — there  came  to  the  Great  House  on  the  same  day,  almost 
at  the  same  hour,  both  death  and  life.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  the  second 
master  of  Stratford,  died  suddenly,  and,  at  the  moment  of  his  interment, 
his  first  son  was  born— the  new  master  of  Stratford — also  named  Philip 
Ludwell  Lee.  Word  of  these  events  is  given  in  two  letters  printed  in 
Lee  of  Virginia.  The  first  is  from  Henry  Lee,  cousin  and  former  guard- 
ian of  the  Stratford  children,  to  William  Lee,  in  London: 

Leesylvania,  1st  March,  1775. 

Dear  Sir,  I have  the  melancholy  news  to  Inform  you  of  yr  Brother  Col.  Phil’s 
death,  who  died  at  Stratford  of  a nervous  Pleurisy  on  the  21st  of  last  month 


In  CONGRESS,  July  4,  i//u. 

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154  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

and  has  left  Mrs.  Lee  his  widow  Very  Big  with  Child;  in  him  Virg’a  has  lost  an 
able  Judge  . . . this  Vacancy  I hope  you  will  use  your  utmost  Efforts  to  fill  up 
in  Council  with  your  Brother  Thos.  or  Franc: ; as  the  former  will  inherit  all  yr 
Brother’s  real  Estate  in  Westmorl’d  by  your  Father's  will  unless  Mrs.  Lee’s 
Child  should  be  a son,  I could  wish  the  Elonour  of  the  Family  to  be  fixed  at 
Stratford,  as  to  your  Bro.  Col.  Rich'd  Henry  I would  by  no  means  have  him  out 
of  the  House  of  Burgesses,  as  there  is  at  Present  the  greatest  reasons  to  Expect 
he  will  succeed  Mr.  Randolph  as  Speaker,  who  is  old  and  infirm. 

The  second  reference  is  in  another  letter  to  Wilham  from  Richard, 
or  "Squire”  Lee  of  Lee  Hall: 

I wrote  the  23d  of  February  [1775]  you  that  your  Brother,  the  Honourable 
Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.,  departed  this  Life  the  21st  of  that  month;  he  was 
interred  on  the  24th  of  February,  his  birthday,  and  a son  was  born  the  same 
day  and  at  the  time  of  his  Interment.  No  will  has  been  found. 

The  burial  place  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  was  doubtless  the  family 
graveyard  at  Stratford.  This  is  located  in  the  grove  of  trees  eastward 
from  the  house  and  at  the  end  of  the  garden  where  a vault  was  erected 
in  later  years.  All  Virginia  homes  had  their  family  graveyards. 

Two  years  after  Philip’s  death  occurred  the  death  of  Thomas  Lud- 
well Lee,  who  was  greatly  beloved  by  his  brothers  and  his  friends.  At 
the  meetings  of  every  assembly  and  convention  in  which  he  took  part, 
he  had  stood  with  his  younger  brothers  on  the  side  of  the  patriots.  His 
passing  was  deeply  mourned. 

Richard  Henry  wrote  to  Arthur,  then  in  London,  under  date  of  May 
12, 1778: 

It  is  with  infinite  pain  that  I inform  you  our  clear  brother  of  Belleview  de- 
parted this  life  on  the  13th  of  April  last,  after  sustaining  a severe  Rheumatic 
fever  for  six  weeks.  Dr.  Steptoe  attended  him  the  whole  time,  and  I was  also 
with  him.  Both  public  and  private  considerations  render  this  loss  most  lament- 
able. He  had  just  been  appointed  one  of  our  five  judges  of  the  General  Court, 
in  which  station  he  was  well  qualified  to  do  his  country  eminent  service.  He  has 
left  behind  him  a numerous  family  (7  children)  and  a very  disconsolate  widow. 

2 

Peak’s  portrait  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  in  profile  shows  a gaunt,  pale 
face  with  deep-set  cavernous  eyes— the  face  of  a man  who  has  come 
through  war  and  cannot  forget.  It  has,  too,  a curious  sense  as  of  one 
never  sleeping,  always  on  guard.  It  is  tense,  eager,  alert,  single-minded. 

No  other  contemporary  portraits  of  Lee  are  known  to  the  author  but 
there  are  several  pen  pictures.  John  Adams  said  to  R.  H.  Lee: 

With  your  grandfather,  Richard  Henry  Lee,  I served  in  Congress  from  1774 
to  1778,  and  afterward  in  the  Senate  of  the  United  States  in  1789-  He  was  a 
yentleman  of  fine  talents,  of  amiable  manners  and  great  worth.  As  a public 


Richard  Henry  Lee:  From  the  original  portrait  by  Charles  Willson  Peale,  non  in  the 
possession  of  Mrs.  Lanier  McKee. 


156 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


speaker,  he  had  a fluency  as  easy  and  graceful  as  it  was  melodious,  which  his 
classical  education  enabled  him  to  decorate  with  frequent  allusion  to  the  finest 
passages  of  antiquity.  With  all  his  brothers,  he  was  always  devoted  to  the  cause 
of  his  country. 

Charles  Campbell  wrote  of  Lee  some  eighty-five  years  ago: 

He  was  in  person  tall  and  well  proportioned;  his  features  bold  and  expres- 
sive; nose,  Roman;  forehead  high,  not  wide;  eyes  light  colored;  the  contour  of 
his  face  noble.  He  had  lost  by  an  accident  the  use  of  one  of  his  hands;  and  was 
sometimes  styled  "the  gentleman  of  the  silver  hand”;  he  kept  it  covered  with  a 
black  silk  bandage,  but  leaving  his  thumb  free.  Notwithstanding  this  disadvan- 
tage his  gesture  was  very  graceful.  His  voice  melodious,  his  elocution  Ciceronian, 
his  diction  elegant  and  easy.  His  eloquence  flowed  on  in  tranquil  beauty,  like 
the  stream  of  his  own  Potomac.  . . . 

In  the  generation  after  him  H.  Lee  wrote  about  Richard  Henry  in  his 
Observations  on  the  Writings  of  Thomas  Jefferson  in  the  stilted  style 
characteristic  of  the  period: 

From  what  has  been  said  and  written  of  this  distinguished  man,  it  appears 
that  from  the  commencement  of  our  revolutionary  struggles  to  their  end,  he  was 
for  patriotism,  statesmanship,  and  oratory,  regarded  as  the  Cicero  of  his  country. 
He  was  remarkable  even  amidst  the  crowd  of  patriots  for  a sensitive  and  im- 
patient love  of  liberty;  and  this  he  encouraged  and  inflamed  by  a fond  contem- 
plation of  those  bright  and  melancholy  examples,  which  the  victims  of  ancient 
and  modern  tyranny  have  left  in  the  characters  of  Phocion,  of  Cato,  of  Sidney, 
and  of  Russel.  This  gave  to  his  classical  and  chaste  elocution,  a tone  of  depth 
and  inspiration,  which,  set  off  as  it  was  by  a majestic  figure,  a noble  countenance, 
and  a graceful  delivery,  charmed  while  it  roused  or  convinced  his  auditory. 

Though  he  never  poured  down  upon  agitated  assemblies,  a cataract  of 
mingled  passion  and  logic  like  Patrick  Henry,  yet  he  rivetted  the  excited  atten- 
tion and  enchanted  fancy  of  his  hearers.  . . . 

His  kinsman’s  appraisal  of  Lee’s  oratory  seems  singularly  accurate 
when  one  reviews  the  records  of  the  Continental  Congress  for  June 
seventh,  1776.  Pursuant  to  the  instructions  from  Virginia,  Richard 
Henry  Lee  offered  the  resolution  which  heralded  the  final  break  with 
the  mother  country.  It  is  breath-taking  in  its  simplicity: 

Resolved: 

That  these  united  colonies  are,  and  of  right  ought  to  be,  free  and  independent 
states,  that  they  are  absolved  from  all  allegiance  to  the  British  crown,  and  that 
all  political  connection  btween  them  and  the  State  of  Great  Britain  is,  and  ought 
to  be,  totally  dissolved. 

That  it  is  expedient  forthwith  to  take  the  most  effectual  measures  for  form- 
ing foreign  alliances. 

That  a plan  for  confederation  be  prepared  and  transmitted  to  the  respective 
colonies  for  their  consideration  and  approbation. 

The  following  day  saw  the  beginning  of  the  debate  on  the  Lee  Reso- 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE  157 

lution.  So  important  were  the  implications,  so  momentous  the  decision 
involved,  and  so  essential  was  it  to  hear  from  all  of  the  colonies,  that 
Congress  postponed  the  final  vote  for  over  three  weeks.  Richard  Henry 
Lee  defended  his  resolution  in  and  out  of  the  Congress. 

On  June  10th  he  again  rose  from  his  seat  and,  facing  his  colleagues, 
said: 

Why  then  do  we  longer  delay?  Why  still  deliberate?  Let  this  happy  day  give 
birth  to  an  American  Republic!  Let  her  rise,  not  to  devastate  and  conquer,  but 
to  reestablish  the  reign  of  peace  and  law.  The  eyes  of  Europe  are  upon  us,  she 
invites  us  to  prepare  an  asylum  where  the  unhappy  may  find  solace,  and  the 
persecuted  repose. 

In  words  that  proved  prophetic,  he  continued: 

We  are  not  this  day  wanting  in  our  duty  to  our  country,  the  names  of  the 
American  legislators  of  1776  will  be  placed  by  posterity  at  the  side  of  all  those 
whose  memory  has  been,  and  forever  will  be  dear  to  virtuous  men  and  good 
citizens! 

Samuel  Adams,  John  Adams,  and  Benjamin  Franklin  were  among  the 
members  supporting  him.  Two  days  of  debate  passed.  Delegates  from 
only  seven  or  eight  of  the  colonies  were  instructed  to  vote  in  favor  of 
the  Lee  Resolution.  It  was  tabled  for  further  consideration  and  a com- 
mittee elected  to  draw  up  a fuller  and  more  detailed  announcement, 
pointing  out  to  the  colonies  the  reasons  why  separation  from  Great 
Britain  was  necessary.  The  men  elected  to  serve  on  the  committee  were: 
Thomas  Jefferson,  John  Adams,  Benjamin  Franklin,  Roger  Sherman, 
and  Robert  R.  Livingston. 

Lee  was  called  to  Virginia  on  June  13  to  attend  the  state  convention 
and  by  strange  irony  of  fate  thus  missed  writing  the  Declaration  based 
upon  the  resolution  of  which  he  was  the  author.  That  honor  fell  to 
Thomas  Jefferson. 

On  July  1,  debate  on  the  resolution  started  once  more,  with  Lee  still 
absent.  John  Adams  was  the  leader  of  the  delegates  approving  and 
urging  its  passage.  On  the  second  day  of  July  the  vote  was  called.  Lee’s 
motion  unanimously  carried. 

Two  days  later,  on  July  4,  the  Declaration  itself  was  adopted  by  the 
Congress.  Lee  returned  to  Philadelphia  in  time  to  sign  the  document. 
His  name  and  that  of  Frank  (Francis  Lightfoot)  are  the  only  brothers 
on  that  list  of  the  fifty-six  Signers. 

From  this  time  Richard  Henry  Lee  was  a national  figure.  He  belonged 
no  longer  to  Virginia  alone,  but  to  thirteen  colonies  whose  union  he 
had  labored  to  bring  about. 


158  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

One  of  his  first  acts  as  Burgess  was  to  introduce  a motion  "to  lay  so 
heavy  a duty  on  the  importation  of  slaves,  as  effectually  to  put  an  end 
to  that  iniquitous  and  disgraceful  traffic  within  the  colony  of  Virginia." 
It  was  his  conviction  that  the  interests  of  the  Colony  were  seriously  en- 
dangered by  the  continued  importation  of  slaves,  and  the  consequent 
checking  thereby  of  white  immigration: 

When  it  is  observed  that  some  of  our  neighbouring  colonies,  though  much 
later  than  ourselves  in  point  of  settlement,  are  now  far  before  us  in  improve- 
ment, to  what,  sir,  can  we  attribute  this  strange,  this  unhappy  truth  ? The  rea- 
son seems  to  be  this:  that  with  their  whites  they  import  arts  and  agriculture, 
whilst  we,  with  our  blacks,  exclude  both.  Nature  has  not  partially  favoured 
them  with  superiour  fertility  of  soil,  nor  do  they  enjoy  more  of  the  sun’s  cheer- 
ing and  enlivening  influence;  yet  greatly  have  they  outstript  us. 

Evidently  Richard  Henry  wished  to  encourage  the  type  of  immigrant 
which  his  father  as  governor  had  done  so  much  to  bring  to  Virginia, 
when  he  sponsored  the  coming  of  the  pioneer  German  tradesmen  and 
agriculturists.  Richard  Henry  Lee  opposed  slavery  from  the  day  he 
entered  public  life,  and  his  younger  brothers  shared  his  views.  For  four 
years  he  served  in  the  Continental  Congresses.  He  was  president  of  the 
first  Congress  of  the  United  States  and  later  one  of  the  first  senators 
from  Virginia.  He  was  deeply  concerned  in  the  formation  of  the 
Articles  of  Confederation  and  in  the  development  of  constructive  for- 
eign alliances.  During  the  time  the  Constitutional  Convention  was  sit- 
ting, Lee  had  an  important  share  in  the  creation  of  the  Northwest  Ordi- 
nance, that  measure  which  determined  in  such  large  part  the  develop- 
ment of  the  United  States. 

The  scene  of  his  activities  shifted  from  Philadelphia  to  Virginia,  then 
to  Philadelphia,  later  to  New  York,  again  to  Philadelphia,  and  back  at 
last  to  Chantilly.  But  it  was  at  Stratford  Hall  and  in  the  early  years  at 
Chantilly  that  he  was  first  cast  in  the  role  of  Friend  of  Freedom.  There 
had  been  bred  in  the  bone  that  nobility,  fearlessness,  and  vision  which 
made  him  one  of  the  first  citizens  of  the  country.  And  of  the  world  as 
well.  In  a letter  to  Lafayette,  written  October  30,  1785,  he  mentioned 
various  alliances  designed  to  promote  peace.  "Among  the  many  leagues 
that  are  formed,”  he  says,  "why  may  not  one  be  made  for  the  purpose 
of  protecting  the  rights  of  humanity?”  For  over  a century  the  same 
thought  stirred  the  minds  of  other  champions  of  union  for  justice. 
Then  the  League  of  Nations  was  born. 

Although  Chantilly  on  the  Potomac,  Richard  Henry  Lee’s  home,  was 
the  one  part  of  Stratford  Plantation  to  be  identified  with  the  activities  of 


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Letter  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  and  William  Grayson  to  the  Go  ren/or  of  Virginia. 


160  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

the  Lees  just  prior  to  and  during  the  Revolution,  Bellevue  in  Stafford 
was  also  a center  for  patriot  work.  There  Thomas  Ludwell  Lee  had 
lived  from  the  late  seventeen-fifties  until  his  untimely  death  in  1778. 
He  had  been  a prominent  member  of  the  Virginia  Convention  of  1775, 
where  he  served  on  the  committee  of  safety,  the  only  governing  body  in 
the  Colony.  He  was  a member  of  the  committee  to  draft  a declaration 
of  rights  and  a plan  of  government  in  the  Convention  of  1776.  In  later 
years  he  served  on  the  committee  of  which  George  Mason  was  chairman, 
to  revise  the  laws  of  Virginia  in  accordance  with  the  changed  political 
conditions  in  America.  George  Wythe  and  Edmund  Pendleton  were 
the  other  two  members. 

When  the  new  government  was  organized  under  the  state  constitution, 
he  was  elected  one  of  the  five  judges  of  the  General  Court,  the  highest 
court  in  the  state,  but  died  before  he  could  serve. 

There  was  also  another  "stronghold  of  freedom”  in  the  home  of  the 
Lees’  cousin  and  former  guardian,  Henry  Lee,  and  his  five  sons,  Henry, 
Charles,  Richard  Bland,  Edmund  Jennings,  and  Theodoric.  Their  home, 
Freestone  Point,  Leesylvania,  was  in  Prince  William  County,  also  on  the 
Potomac,  about  three  miles  from  Dumfries.  With  the  exception  of 
Henry,  who  enlisted  in  the  service  of  the  Revolution  the  year  after  he 
was  graduated  from  Princeton  and  became  the  famous  Legion  Harry  or 
Light-Horse  Harry  Lee,  Henry  Lee’s  sons  were  only  boys  at  the  time 
their  older  brother  and  their  Stratford  Hall  cousins  were  in  the  thick  of 
the  struggle. 

Frank  Lee  of  Menokin,  on  the  Rappahannock,  was  in  his  quiet  way  a 
most  ardent  revolutionist.  He  was  less  widely  known  than  Richard 
Henry  and  was  never  in  the  limelight,  but  in  ability  he  was  not  inferior 
to  his  elder  brother  and  had  great  political  influence. 

No  Virginian  bent  on  resisting  the  British  government  had  a bolder 
spirit  than  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee.  He  took  part  in  every  measure  of 
defiance  to  the  British  government.  He  was  not  a good  speaker,  for 
he  was  shy,  reserved,  inarticulate  in  public.  But  he  had  brains.  He 
thought  things  through.  He  worked  behind  the  scenes.  After  signing 
the  Westmoreland  Resolves  against  the  Stamp  Act  on  February  27,  1766, 
he  was  one  of  the  Burgesses  at  the  meeting  in  the  Apollo  Room  of  the 
Raleigh  Tavern.  He  was  a member  of  the  Virginia  committee  of  cor- 
respondence. The  call  for  the  Virginia  convention  of  August,  1774, 
was  signed  by  him;  and  he  was  a member  of  that  convention  as  well  as 
of  the  succeeding  one  of  March.  In  the  same  year  he  was  chosen  a dele- 


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Original  verse  written  by  Nancy  Shi p pen  (Airs.  Henry  Beekman  Livingston ) to  her  uncle, 
Francis  Lightjoot  Lee. 


162  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

gate  to  the  first  Continental  Congress  to  succeed  Colonel  Richard  Bland, 
resigned. 

Frank  was  the  second  member  of  the  Lee  family  to  sign  the  Declara- 
tion of  Independence.  As  a member  of  the  committee  which  drew  up 
the  articles  of  confederation,  he  gave  effective  service  in  the  debates  on 
the  Newfoundland  fisheries  and  in  those  advocating  the  free  navigation 
of  the  Mississippi  River.  He  sat  in  the  Continental  Congress  until  June, 
1779.  In  later  years  he  continued  to  serve  the  interests  of  Virginia  as  a 
member  of  Congress. 

Like  his  brother,  Thomas  Ludwell,  Francis  inherited  certain  of  their 
father’s  personal  characteristics.  Thomas  Lee’s  sincerity,  his  genial  hos- 
pitality, his  capacity  for  evoking  steadfast  affection  and  enthusiastic 
support,  and  his  quiet,  unostentatious,  but  forceful  manner  and  method 
of  life  were  to  a large  extent  inherited  by  his  sons  Frank  and  Thomas 
Ludwell. 

A commentary  on  Frank  Lee,  long  since  out  of  print,  is  contained  in  a 
brief  sketch  by  Mark  Twain: 

He  dealt  in  no  shams;  he  had  no  ostentations  of  dress  or  equipage;  for  he 
was,  as  one  may  say,  inured  to  wealth.  He  had  always  been  used  to  it.  His  own 
ample  means  were  inherited.  He  was  educated.  He  was  more  than  that — he 
was  finely  cultivated.  He  loved  books;  he  had  a good  library,  and  no  place  had 
so  great  a charm  for  him  as  that.  . . . 

Mr.  Lee  defiled  himself  with  no  juggling,  or  wire-pulling,  or  begging,  to 
acquire  a place  in  the  provincial  legislature,  but  went  thither  when  he  was  called, 
and  went  reluctantly.  He  wrought  industriously  during  four  years,  never  seek- 
ing his  own  ends,  but  only  the  public’s.  His  course  was  purity  itself,  and  he 
retired  unblemished  when  his  work  was  done.  He  retired  gladly,  and  sought  his 
home  and  its  superior  allurements.  No  one  dreamed  of  such  a thing  as  "investi- 
gating” him. 

Immediately  the  people  called  him  again — this  time  to  a seat  in  the  Con- 
tinental Congress.  He  accepted  this  unsought  office  from  a sense  of  duty  only, 
and  during  four  of  the  darkest  years  of  the  Revolution  he  labored  with  all  his 
might  for  his  country’s  best  behests.  He  did  no  brilliant  things,  he  made  no 
brilliant  speeches;  but  the  enduring  strength  of  his  patriotism  was  manifest, 
his  fearlessness  in  confronting  perilous  duties  and  compassing  them  was  patent 
to  all,  the  purity  of  his  motives  was  unquestioned,  his  unpurchasable  honor  and 
uprightness  were  unchallenged.  His  good  work  finished,  he  hurried  back  to  the 
priceless  charms  of  his  home  once  more,  and  begged  hard  to  be  allowed  to  spend 
the  rest  of  his  days  in  the  retirement  and  repose  which  his  faithful  labors  had  so 
fairly  earned;  but  this  could  not  be,  he  was  solicited  to  enter  the  State  Legis- 
lature; he  was  needed  there;  he  was  a good  citizen,  a citizen  of  the  best  and 
highest  type,  and  so  he  put  self  aside  and  answered  to  the  call.  . . . 

From  points  abroad  William  and  Arthur  Lee  kept  in  as  close  touch 


THE  BAND  OF  BROTHERS:  INTREPID  AND  UNCHANGEABLE  163 

with  Francis  as  they  did  with  Richard  Henry.  All  the  family  were 
devoted  to  "Frank  and  Becky.”  A few  messages  taken  at  random  from 
some  of  William’s  letters  to  Frank  in  the  Lee  Letter  Books  in  Harvard 
College  library  give  a view  of  the  personal  side  of  the  warm  friendship 
between  the  two  brothers  and  their  wives.  On  March  27,  1772,  William 
writes  from  London:  "Mrs.  Lee  joins  me  in  affectionate  love  to  you  and 
our  Dr  Sister  I beg  my  best  respects  to  Col.  Tayloe  & the  family  all  at  Mc 
Airy.”  In  another  letter  he  sends  to  Menokin  books  and  magazines, 
Blackstone’s  Commentaries  on  the  laws  of  England,  and  ends  with 
"Heaven  bless  you  both — Farewell.”  Again  he  says:  "Mrs.  Lee  & myself 
have  the  most  affectionat  feelings  for  your  sym  [sympathetic]  Fireside. 
I thank  you  for  the  intelligence  about  my  estate.  I cant  think  Cary  W is 
a good  crop  master,  for  it  is  impossible  any  land  could  be  so  poor  as  in 
the  finest  years  to  require  the  labor  of  4 negroes  to  make  8 or  9 Hogsheads 
of  Tobacco.  Farewell  I wish  you  health  & every  other  happiness  being 
most  sincerely  & affecionately  Yours  William  Lee.”  Again  he  says:  "I 
have  only  now  to  assure  you  & our  Dear  Sister  of  Mrs.  Lee’s  & my 
sincere  Love  being  most  truely  Yr  Affe1  Friend  & Dr  William  Lee.”7 


'These  excerpts  have  not  been  collated  with  the  originals. 


CHAPTER  VIII:  VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE 
IMMENSA  CUPIDO 

1 

A RTHUR  LEE’S  chambers,  at  No.  2 Garden  Court,  in  the  Middle 
Temple,  London,  looked  into  a delightful  little  garden  on  the 
JL  jV  Thames,  of  which  he  had  the  key:  "I  could  go  in  and  out  at  all 
hours,  and  have  what  company  I pleased,  without  being  questioned  or 
overlooked.  I was  near  the  Royal  Society,  of  which  I was  a fellow, 
where,  every  week,  whatever  was  new  and  ingenious  in  literature  was 
communicated.  Not  far  from  me  was  the  hall  of  the  Society  of  Arts  and 
Agriculture,  of  which  I was  an  honorary  member,  and  where  I had  ac- 
cess to  all  the  new  discoveries  in  arts,  agriculture,  and  mechanics. 

"The  play  houses  and  the  opera  were  equally  convenient,  where  I 
could  select  the  opportunity  of  seeing  the  best  tragedies  and  comedies 
represented,  and  of  hearing  the  most  exquisite  music.  I was  a subscriber 
to  Bach’s  and  Abel’s  concert,  where  the  most  masterly  performers  of  the 
world  (Bach,  Abel,  Fisher,  Tassot,  Ponto,  and  Crosdal),  played  to  a 
most  polite  and  fashionable  audience,  in  one  of  the  most  elegant  con- 
cert rooms  in  the  world.  In  the  field  of  politics,  from  the  politician  in 
the  cider-cellar  to  the  peer  in  his  palace,  I had  access  and  influence.  At 
the  Bill  of  Rights,  the  city  of  Landon,  the  East  India  House,  and  with  the 
opposition  in  both  houses,  I was  of  some  consideration.  Among  my 
particular  friends,  to  whom  I always  had  access,  were  Lord  Shelburne, 
Mr.  Downing,  Col.  Barre,  Mr.  Wilkes,  Sergeant  Glynn,  and  several 
others.  I was  so  well  with  several  of  the  nobility  and  gentry  that  I 
could  spend  all  my  leisure  time  at  their  country  seats.  At  Bath  I had  a 
very  extensive  acquaintance;  and  there  is  not  in  the  world  a more  agree- 
able place  to  one  so  circumstanced.  As  one  of  the  law,  I enjoyed  the 
protection  and  distinction  of  that  body,  with  the  prospect  of  rising  to 
place  and  profit,  which  all  of  that  body,  who  have  moderate  abilities, 
enjoy.  So  circumstanced,  nothing  but  the  peculiar  and  extraordinary 
crisis  of  the  times  prevented  me  from  being  entirely  happy,  and  pur- 
suing the  fortune  which  sat  with  golden  plumes  within  my  reach.  But 
everything  was  absorbed  in  the  great  contest  which  I saw  fast  approach- 
ing; and  which  soon  called  upon  me  to  quit  London,  and  take  an  open 
part  in  the  Revolution,  as  a representative  of  the  United  States  at  the 
Court  of  France.”1 

Arthur  Lee  was  thus  pleasantly  "circumstanced”  as  he  says  during  the 


1 Life  of  Arthur  Lee,  by  Richard  Henry  Lee.  Boston,  Wells  and  Lilly,  1829,  II,  391-392. 
[164] 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  165 

years  before  the  Revolution,  from  1768  to  1776,  the  year  he  was  ap- 
pointed Joint  Commissioner  from  the  United  Colonies  to  France.  Of  all 
the  Stratford  Lees  he  had  the  most  varied  and  perhaps  the  most  inter- 
esting life,  associated  as  it  was  with  foreign  places  and  with  men  of 
affairs  of  many  parts  of  England  and  of  Europe.  On  the  playing  fields 
at  Eton,  he  formed  the  basis  for  later  friendships  with  members  of  es- 
tablished English  families.  From  Eton  Arthur  went  to  the  Universitv 
of  Edinburgh  to  study  medicine,  "general  science  and  polite  literature.” 
His  father  always  intended  him  for  the  medical  profession.  In  1764  he 
received  his  degree  as  Doctor  of  Medicine,  traveled  on  the  continent 
for  several  months,  and  in  1766  returned  to  Virginia.  FFe  settled  in 
Williamsburg  to  practice  medicine.  According  to  an  unpublished  letter 
written  by  Thomas  Jones  of  Virginia  to  his  brother  Walter,  then  a stu- 
dent at  the  University  of  Edinburgh:  "Mr.  Lee  arrived  here  I think  about 
4 or  5 weeks  past,  it  is  thought  he  will  make  a great  Figure,  as  soon  as  he 
came  to  WestmorelV  he  might  have  had  as  many  patients  as  he  could 
attend,  but  his  being  there  was  only  by  way  of  visit  to  his  Friends,  & 
then  to  the  Metropolis;  where  he  is  to  reside.” 

Obviously,  Arthur’s  return  to  his  own  country  was  influenced  by  the 
letter  from  his  elder  brother  Richard  Henry,  in  which  he  spoke  so  earn- 
estly of  America’s  need  for— and  claim  upon — her  sons  who  were  fitted 
to  aid  her: 

But  then,  my  brother,  when  these,  or  either  of  these  [arts  and  learning]  are 
acquired,  should  not  their  possessor  import  them  into  his  native  country;  which 
if  forsaken  by  the  best  of  her  sons,  must  fall  into  barbarous  ignorance,  and  of 
course,  become  a fit  subject  for  tyrannical  natures  to  impose  arbitrary  and  injuri- 
ous acts  upon.  Should  America  make  the  same  progress  in  the  arts  and  sciences, 
as  she  infallibly  must  do  in  numbers  of  people,  despotism  will  quickly  learn, 
that  her  friendship  is  on  no  other  terms  to  be  obtained  than  by  a free  intercourse 
and  equal  participation  of  good  offices,  liberty  and  free  constitution  of  govern- 
ment. 

America,  then,  has  a parent’s  claim  to  her  descendants,  and  a right  to  insist 
that  they  shall  not  fix  in  any  place,  where,  by  so  doing,  they  may  add  strength 
to  the  cruel  and  tyrannical  oppression. 

It  was  not  long  before  Arthur  joined  his  brothers  in  their  political 
activities  and  determined  to  give  up  practicing  medicine  to  study  law. 
In  less  than  two  years  he  returned  to  England  and  entered  Lincoln’s  Inn, 
and  later  the  Middle  Temple,  as  a law  student.  The  course  Arthur  had 
originally  charted  on  his  return  to  England  from  Williamsburg,  he 
described  years  later  in  a letter  to  his  nephew  Tom  Shippen.  He  in- 
tended to  try  his  fortune  in  Westminster  Hall,  to  become  a "British 


1 66  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

subject”  and  aim  for  the  Chief  Justice’s  bench  or  "the  Seat  of  the  Ld 
High  Chancellor.”  And  if  he  obtained  the  title  of  "my  Lord,”  it  would 
not  perhaps  render  him  less  acceptable!  He  wrote  to  Tom:  "I  mark  out 
to  you  the  path  I intended  to  pursue,  in  which  six  years  patient  perse- 
verance had  advanced  me  hopefully,  when  my  zeal  for  liberty  & my 
country  made  me  sacrifice  all  my  prospects  to  embrace  their  then  peril- 
ous & doubtful  cause  ...” 

He  became  a member  of  the  society  of  supporters  of  the  Bill  of 
Rights.  In  a literary  controversy  in  which  he  engaged  with  Junius,  he 
wrote  under  the  signature  of  "Junius  Americanus”  political  articles 
that  gained  him  the  acquaintance  of  Samuel  Johnson,  Edmund  Burke, 
and  other  eminent  men.  Lee’s  papers,  "The  Monitor’s  Letters,”  in  vindi- 
cation of  colonial  rights,  were  published  in  1769.  In  the  following  year 
he  received  his  first  official  appointment  with  the  American  colonies — 
Agent  for  Massachusetts. 

On  February  14,  1773,  he  wrote  from  London:  "I  am  considered  here 
as  the  most  determined  supporter  of  the  cause  of  America.  I am  there- 
fore so  obnoxious  as  to  have  no  hope  of  favor  here  nor  am  I likely  to  re- 
ceive any  reward  from  those  for  whom  I have  sacrificed  myself.  Were 
my  fortune  independent  this  would  not  give  me  a moment’s  concern. 
I certainly  feel  that  virtue  is  its  own  reward.  But  at  the  same  time  I 
cannot  but  be  sensible  that  narrowness  of  circumstances  is  a very  great 
obstacle.”2 

In  1774  he  wrote  "An  Appeal  to  the  People  of  Great  Britain”  which 
was  ascribed  to  Lord  Chatham. 

Arthur  was  admitted  to  the  bar  in  the  spring  of  1775  and  began  to 
practice  law  in  that  year.  According  to  his  biographer,  R.  H.  Lee,  he 
became  "a  conspicuous  and  successful  advocate,  and  was  in  habits  of 
intimacy  with  Dunning  and  Glynn,  and  was  often  engaged  in  cases 
with  them.”  He  had  perhaps  a more  extensive  acquaintance  in  English 
political  and  social  circles  than  had  any  other  American  of  that  period. 
Chatham  and  Burke  he  knew  particularly  well,  a fact  which  enabled 
him  to  be  of  much  value  in  obtaining  what  hearing  the  American  cause 
received. 

During  the  summer  of  1775  Lee  was  associated  with  Richard  Penn 
in  the  effort  to  present  to  George  III  the  second  petition  of  Congress  to 
the  King— the  Olive  Branch  Petition.  Issued  by  the  second  Continental 

2Vol.  II,  Lee  Letter  Books,  Library  of  Harvard  College : Original  letter  from  Arthur,  prob- 
ably to  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  : not  collated  with  the  original. 


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Signature  sheet  of  the  Olive  Branch  Petition. 


170  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Congress,  July  8,  1775,  it  was  written  by  John  Dickinson  and  sent  by 
Richard  Penn  to  London.  The  Olive  Branch  Petition  was  signed  by 
Richard  Henry  Lee,  and  forty-five  other  members  of  Congress,  twenty- 
five  of  whom  later  signed  the  Declaration  of  Independence.  Presented 
by  Arthur  Lee  in  England,  the  petition  showed  the  sincerity  of  the  pa- 
triots. It  was  the  last  effort  made  by  the  American  colonies  to  avert 
war. 

In  the  petition  the  attention  of  the  King  was  drawn  to  several  points: 
the  benefit  to  the  kingdom  of  the  union  with  the  colonies,  and  the  bene- 
fits which  that  union  contributed  to  the  glory  of  the  colonies  and  of 
England.  It  expressed  the  hope  that  the  fruits  of  both  peace  and  victorv 
might  be  shared  but  showed  that  such  a hope  was  unlikely  to  be  ful- 
filled because  of  the  new  laws  and  regulations  which  the  royal  ministers 
had  been  unscrupulous  enough  to  levy.  And  now,  Congress,  wishing 
to  use  all  the  means  in  her  power — or  means  which  could  be  pursued 
with  safety — to  stop  further  bloodshed,  petitioned  the  King  to  interpose 
in  order  to  relieve  the  tension  in  the  colonies. 

Lee  and  Penn  saw  Lord  Dartmouth  first  on  August  21,  1775,  but 
could  not  deliver  the  original  copy  of  the  petition  which  he  was  to  pre- 
sent to  the  King  September  first.  Finally  a reply  was  received  stating 
that  as  His  Majesty  did  not  receive  it  upon  the  throne,  no  answer  would 
be  given,  but  George  III  had  already  given  his  answer  in  the  Procla- 
mation of  Rebellion  on  August  23rd. 

In  November,  1775,  Benjamin  Franklin,  John  Jay,  and  John  Dick- 
inson were  appointed  a committee  by  the  Continental  Congress  to  carry 
on  secret  correspondence  with  the  friends  of  the  American  colonies 
abroad.  On  December  12  they  appointed  Arthur  Lee  secret  agent  of 
the  Continental  Congress  in  London,  and  entrusted  him  with  letters  and 
dispatches  to  transmit  to  other  men  on  the  Continent  in  key  positions 
to  aid  them.  They  wrote  to  Lee: 

It  would  be  agreeable  to  Congress  to  know  the  disposition  of  foreign 
powers  towards  us,  and  we  hope  this  object  will  engage  your  attention.  We 
need  not  hint  that  great  circumspection  and  impenetrable  secrecy  are  neces- 
sary. The  Congress  rely  on  your  zeal  and  abilities  to  serve  them,  and  will 
readily  compensate  you  for  whatever  trouble  and  expense  a compliance  with 
their  desire  may  occasion.  We  remit  you  for  the  present  £200. 

Whenever  you  think  the  importance  of  your  dispatches  may  require  it,  we 
desire  you  to  send  an  express  boat  with  them  from  England,  for  which  service 
your  agreement  with  the  owner  there  shall  be  fulfilled  by  us  here.  We  can 
now  only  add  that  we  continue  firm  in  our  resolutions  to  defend  ourselves, 
notwithstanding  the  big  threats  of  the  ministry.3 

journals  of  Continental  Congress,  Vol.  5,  p.  8 27. 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  171 

It  was  in  his  capacity  of  secret  agent  that  Arthur  Lee  entered  into 
negotiations  with  the  French  government,  at  first  through  the  medium 
of  the  ardent  Caron  de  Beaumarchais  and  later  directly  with  Comte  de 
Vergennes,  the  French  Minister  of  Foreign  Affairs.  At  the  same  time 
Lee  was  also  officially  serving  Virginia  as  agent,  and,  with  the  aid  of 
Beaumarchais,  succeeded  in  procuring  for  that  Colony  warlike  stores  to 
the  value  of  nearly  £260,000  from  the  royal  arsenals  of  France. 

Sometime  before  in  England,  Arthur  Lee  had  taken  measures  through 
the  French  Ambassador  to  Great  Britain  to  interest  France  in  raising  a 
financial  loan  to  the  colonies.  He  was  tireless  in  following  up  efforts  to 
win  the  friendship  of  France,  as  of  the  other  courts  of  Europe  for 
America. 

Major  Henry  Lee  in  his  Observations  on  the  Writings  of  Thomas 
Jefferson,  says  of  his  kinsman,  Arthur  Lee: 

But  skill  as  a writer,  though  important  to  Mr.  Lee  as  arming  him  with  an 
effective  weapon  to  be  used  in  the  service  of  his  country,  furnishes  the  smallest 
part  of  his  title  to  its  gratitude.  His  zeal,  perseverance,  efficiency  and  disinter- 
estedness, are  the  great  qualities  which  entitle  him  to  the  highest  praise.  The 
spirit  with  which  he  entered  upon  his  public  career  is  evidenced  in  the  following 
extract  from  a letter  of  his  to  his  friend,  the  Earl  of  Shelburne,  afterwards 
Marquis  of  Lansdowne.  f p^  Decemher  2}d  , m ] 

My  Lord, — A very  few  hours  after  my  last  letter  to  your  Lordship  brought 
me  the  desire  of  my  country  that  I should  serve  her  in  a public  capacity.  Your 
Lordship  thinks  too  well  of  me,  I hope,  to  suppose  I could  hesitate  a moment. 
In  fact,  almost  the  same  minute  saw  me  bid  adieu,  perhaps  forever,  to  a country 
where  I had  fixed  my  fortunes,  and  to  a people  whom  I most  respected,  and 
could  have  loved.  But  the  first  object  of  my  life  is  my  country — the  first  wish 
of  my  heart  is  public  liberty.  I must  see,  therefore,  the  liberties  of  my  countries 
established,  or  perish  in  her  last  struggle. 

Meanwhile  William  Lee  had  come  to  have  an  important  and  influen- 
tial civic  position  in  London.  Successful  as  a business  man,  he  was 
elected  Alderman  of  Aldgate  Ward.  The  beginning  of  the  Revolution 
found  him  holding  the  office  of  High  Sheriff  of  London.  According  to 
Worthington  C.  Ford  in  his  Letters  of  William  Lee,  he  was  the  only 
American  ever  to  have  served  in  such  offices  in  London.  In  1777  he  was 
appointed  commercial  agent  for  the  Continental  Congress  in  France.  As 
an  agent  for  the  Congress,  William  Lee’s  duties  included  special  diplo- 
matic as  well  as  business  service.  His  letters  were  important  as  a contri- 
bution to  American  history,  and  solve  many  uncertain  and  complicated 
points  and  questions  in  the  foreign  relations  of  the  young  republic  in 
its  most  critical  period. 


172  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

The  Honorable  Blair  Lee  says  of  William  Lee:  "In  the  tumult  of 
London  politics  his  patriotic  espousal  of  the  American  cause  involved 
the  sacrifice  of  a large  personal  fortune  and  the  loss  of  a prosperous 
business.” 

In  January,  1777,  when  William  was  serving  as  commercial  agent  at 
Nantes,  he  was  associated  with  Thomas  Morris.  On  May  9 he  was 
elected  commissioner  to  the  courts  of  Vienna  and  Berlin  and  commis- 
sioned July  1,  but  he  was  not  received  at  either  court.  On  September  4, 
1778,  to  quote  Wharton:  "William  Lee  and  M.  de  Neufville  of  the 
Netherlands,  drafted  a treaty  between  the  United  States  and  the  Nether- 
lands at  Aix-la-Chapelle,  but  the  treaty  was  never  signed  by  either 
country.  The  draft  treaty  was  in  the  possession  of  Henry  Laurens  when 
he  was  seized  by  the  British  on  Sept.  3,  1780,  and  became  one  of  the 
causes  of  war  between  the  Netherlands  and  Great  Britain.” 

Early  in  1779  William  was  recalled.  In  Volume  One  of  the  Calendar 
of  State  Papers  of  Virginia  is  this  letter  to  Governor  Henry,  dated  Sep- 
tember 24,  1779,  written  by  Lee  concerning  the  recall: 

His  Excellency,  Gov.  Henry,  was  pleased  in  1777,  with  the  advice  of  the 
Council,  to  appoint  me  Agent  in  France,  for  the  state  of  Virginia,  and  in  1778, 
by  same  authority  sent  me  a power  under  State  Seal  to  obtain  Arms,  Artillery 
and  Ammunition  of  his  most  Xtian  Majesty,  Ministers  or  any  other  persons  to 
amount  of  2,000,000  Livres,  . . . These  Documents  came  to  be  at  Vienna,  . . . 
and  I also  sent  a power  to  my  brother,  Mr.  Arthur  Lee,  who  was  then  in  Paris, 
to  solicit  the  business  for  me  at  the  Court  of  Versailles.  ...  In  consequence 
there  was  obtained  from  the  French  Ministry  amunition  amounting  to  £219,489-, 
and  my  brother  advanced  the  money  for  swords  etc.,  which  with  other  expenses 
amounted  to  45,000  Livres.  My  brother  chartered  vessels  to  convey  these  goods 
to  Virginia.  . . . (mentions  a purchase  of  very  inferior  guns,  through  a chan- 
nel he  did  not  regard  highly  and  hopes  they  will  not  reach  Virginia) .... 
My  brother  has  given  Gov.  Henry  account  of  his  proceedings  and  now  writes 
me,  he  has  no  more  money  to  advance,  and  needs  27,000  Livres  for  freight  pay- 
ment to  ship  owners.  Having  no  money  myself,  we  shall  be  greatly  distressed 
unless  you  can  hasten  remittances,  ...  I have  heard  that  Congress  has  dis- 
pensed with  my  services.  . . . 

In  September,  1776,  the  Continental  Congress  appointed  Benjamin 
Franklin,  Silas  Deane,  and  Thomas  Jefferson  as  commissioners  to  the 
court  of  France  and  directed  them  "to  procure  from  that  Court,  at  the 
expence  of  these  United  States,  either  by  purchase  or  loan,  eight  line  of 
battle  ships  of  74  and  64  guns,  well  manned,  and  fitted  in  every  respect 
for  service;  That  as  these  ships  may  be  useful  in  proportion  to  the  quick- 
ness with  which  they  reach  North  America,  the  Commissioners  be  di- 
rected to  expedite  this  negotiation  with  all  possible  diligence.” 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  173 

Mr.  Jefferson  informed  Congress  that  the  state  of  his  family  would 
not  permit  him  to  go  as  their  Commissioner  to  France  and  Arthur  Lee 
was  elected  in  his  place.  The  Committee  of  Secret  Correspondence  noti- 
fied Lee  of  his  appointment  and  that  his  powers  and  instructions  were 
lodged  in  Paris.  According  to  the  records  of  the  Department  of  State 
of  the  United  States,  Arthur  Lee  of  Virginia  was  appointed: 

Joint  commissioner  to  court  of  France  with  full  powers  to  negotiate  treaties: 
elected  October  22,  1776,  to  replace  Thomas  Jefferson,  who  had  declined  ap- 
pointment on  the  commission;  signed,  with  Silas  Deane  and  Benjamin  Franklin, 
treaties  of  commerce  and  alliance  February  6,  1778;  commission  dissolved  Sep- 
tember 14,  1778,  upon  appointment  of  Benjamin  Franklin  as  sole  minister 
plenipotentiary. 

Commissioner  also  to  court  of  Spain:  elected  May  1,  1777;  commissioned 
June  5,  1777,  but  never  went  to  Spain  on  this  mission,  although  he  had  been 
there  previously  in  the  financial  interests  of  the  United  States. 

The  last  reference  is  to  Lee’s  action  in  presenting  to  the  Spanish  gov- 
ernment a memoir  of  "The  Present  State  of  the  Dispute  between  Amer- 
ica and  Great  Britain,”  and  procuring  a large  money  loan  from  Spain 
for  the  colonies.  In  a more  or  less  private  capacity  he  went  to  Berlin, 
where  he  corresponded  secretly  with  the  Prussian  Court  and  received 
assurance  of  its  friendly  interest  in  the  colonies. 

Meanwhile,  Lee’s  personal  relations  with  Franklin  and  Deane,  never 
pleasant,  reached  a crisis.  Lee  charged  his  colleagues  with  connivance 
at  fraud  and  corruption  and  with  being  under  French  influence.  There 
were  charges  and  counter-charges.  An  international  scandal  developed 
which,  one  hundred  and  fifty-eight  years  afterwards,  has  not  been  en- 
tirely cleared.  Although  Lee  secured  the  recall  of  Deane,  Franklin’s 
position  seemed  impregnable.  At  length,  because  of  Franklin’s  prestige 
and  the  high  regard  in  which  he  was  held  by  the  French  Court,  a situa- 
tion arose  in  which  it  was  considered  wise  to  retire  Arthur  Lee  from  the 
diplomatic  service.  In  the  fall  of  1779,  this  action  was  taken,  and  at  the 
same  time  William  Lee  was  recalled  as  Commissioner  to  Holland. 

Arthur  Lee,  aroused  and  indignant,  returned  to  America  early  in 
1780  to  place  his  cause  before  Congress  and  the  American  public.  In 
reference  to  the  controversy  and  its  unjust  reaction  upon  him,  Lee  wrote 
Tom  Shippen: 

In  return  [for  years  of  service]  I am  now  cast  off  with  as  much  disgrace  as 
they  can  fix  upon  me,  & must  spend  the  remainder  of  my  life  in  circumstances 
hardly  above  indegence.  An  endeavor  to  shield  my  Country  from  the  depreda- 
tions of  Franklin  Deene  & Beaumarchais  dismissed  me  before  from  public  em- 
ployment— the  same  attempt  repeated  against  Morris  & his  adherents — is  now 


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Original  letter  to  the  public  written  by  Arthur  Lee  in  Paris. 


176  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

the  cause  of  my  dismission.  Yet  upon  reviewing  the  sacrifice  I made,  & the  en- 
deavors that  have  only  ruined  myself  without  benefiting  the  Public,  I cannot 
think  I have  done  more  than  my  duty,  or  if  I were  again  placed  in  the  path  of 
brilliant  prospects,  which  I quitted  that  I could  hesitate  to  make  the  same 
sacrifice! 

Vincit  amor  Patriae  laudumque  immensa  cupido. 

Adieu,  A.  Lee. 

In  response  to  Arthur  Lee’s  able  and  exhaustive  official  paper,  the 
Continental  Congress  passed  the  following  resolution:  "Resolved,  that 
Mr.  Lee  be  further  informed,  in  answered  to  his  letter,  that  there  is  no 
particular  charge  against  him  before  Congress,  properly  supported;  and 
that  he  be  assured  his  recall  was  not  intended  to  affix  any  kind  of  cen- 
sure on  his  character,  or  on  his  conduct  abroad." 

Meantime,  at  Shippen  House  a family  reunion  was  held  to  welcome 
Arthur  home.  His  family  and  friends  rejoiced  in  his  return  and  took 
up  arms  in  his  behalf.  Among  the  many  tributes  to  him  is  one  contained 
in  a letter  from  Samuel  Adams  to  Mr.  Warren: 

Now  you  tell  me  their  art  is  to  prejudice  the  people  against  the  Lees,  and  to 
propagate  that  I am  a friend  to  them.  How  trifling  is  this!  Am  I accountable 
to  the  people  for  my  opinions  of  men?  If  I have  found  from  long  and  intimate 
acquaintance  with  those  gentlemen  that  they  are  and  have  been,  from  the  begin- 
ning of  this  contest,  among  the  most  able  and  zealous  defenders  of  the  rights 
of  America  and  mankind,  shall  I not  be  their  friend  ? I will  avow  my  friend- 
ship to  them  in  the  face  of  the  world.  As  an  inhabitant  of  Massachusetts  Bay, 
I should  think  myself  ungrateful  not  to  esteem  Arthur  Lee  most  highly  for  his 
voluntary  services  to  that  State,  in  times  of  her  greatest  need,  to  the  injury  of 
his  private  interest,  and  at  the  risk  of  his  life. 

2 

"I  am  agreeably  situated  on  a Bank  commanding  the  harbour,”  Ar- 
thur Lee  wrote  Tom  Shippen  April  25,  1790,  from  Urbanna,  Virginia. 
He  goes  on  to  say  that  the  harbor  is  "now  pretty  well  fill’d  with  ship- 
ping; but  there  still  wants  men  of  Capital  here,  to  make  its  Commerce 
really  respectable.  A dozen  of  your  richest  Quakers  would  answer  our 
purpose.  Detach  them  forthwith  I beseech  you.” 

Further  excerpts  from  the  unpublished  letter  show  the  varied  sides  of 
this  Virginian  who  was  among  the  nation’s  first  diplomatic  representa- 
tives: 

I received  your  favor,  of  the  18th,  my  dear  Tom,  with  singular  pleasure.  The 
State  of  Maryland  seems  not  to  have  thought  of  any  defensive  measures.  In- 
deed I do  not  well  comprehend  any  foundation  for  defence.  My  request,  as  you 
state  it,  was  certainly  impracticable;  but  that  arose  from  the  post  as  I put  the 
letter  in  fully  in  time  for  the  object. 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  177 

I shall  by  no  means  deem  you  enthusiastic,  in  what  you  say  of  Mr  Madison’s 
agreeableness  in  conversation.  I have  heard  others  say  the  same,  & as  far  as  I 
have  had  experience  think  with  you.  It  is  his  political  conduct  which  I condemn, 
that  without  being  a public  knave  himself  he  has  always  been  the  supporter  of 
public  knaves,  & never,  in  any  one  instance  has  concurred  to  check,  censure,  or 
controul  them — that  he  has  had  such  vanity  as  to  suppose  himself  superior  to 
all  other  persons,  conducting  measures  without  consulting  them  & intolerant  of 
all  advice  or  contradiction — that  in  consequence,  he  has  been  dup’d  by  the 
artful  management  of  the  rapacious  Morris  & the  intrigueing  Marbois.  It  is 
possible  he  may  have  thought  himself  right  in  all  this,  but  in  acquitting  his 
intention  we  hazard  the  credit  of  his  understanding.  Something  too  much  of 
this. 

You  feel  nothing  but  mortification  & regret,  at  the  absence  of This 

is  one  of  the  pleasing  anxieties  of  Love.  Absence  & distance  are  its  touchstone. 
You  will  meet  again  persuaded  that  you  are  both  more  desperately  in  love  than 
when  you  parted.  From  that  moment  all  doubts  & difficulties  will  vanish,  & 
you  will  concur  in  thinking  that  prudence  cruel  which  proposes  to  procrastinate 
the  completion  of  your  wishes.  When  once  the  amiable  object  of  your  passion 
is  so  impress’d,  it  is  much  if  she  dont  sway  the  old  ones  from  their  prudential 
plan.  I shall  not  therefore  be  surpris’d  to  hear  soon  that  you  are  at  the  summit 
of  human  happiness.  Long  may  it  continue  so,  & may  a sober  certainty  of  real 
bliss  make  you  think  of  your  accomplished  partner  as  Adam  as  express’d  him- 
self of  Eve — Yet  when  I approach  Her  loveliness,  so  absolute  she  seems 
And  in  herself  compleat,  so  well  to  know 
Her  own,  that  what  She  wills  to  do  or  say 
Seems  wisest,  virtuousest,  discreetest,  best. 

All  higher  knowledge  in  her  presence  falls 
Degraded;  wisdom  in  discourse  with  her 
Loses  discountenanced  or  like  folly  shews 
Authority  & reason  on  her  wait 
As  one  intended  first,  not  after  made 
Occasionally;  & to  consummate  all. 

Greatness  of  mind  & loveliness  their  seat 
Build  in  her  loveliest,  & create  an  awe 
About  her,  as  a gaurd  angelic  plac’d. 

These  lines  describe  the  delicious  thraldom  in  which  beauty,  goodness  & 
female  wisdom  can  keep  the  mind  of  man,  or  take  the  imprison’d  Soul,  & Cap  it 
Elysium. 

I am  really  griev’d  at  your  account  of  the  Debates.  The  expectations  of  men 
were  extra  [illegible].  Their  disappointment  is  proportion’d[ate?].  For  my 
own  part  I think  the  house  as  wise  & eloquent  as  I expected;  knowing  that  the 
members  were  of  the  different  Assemblies  & that  there  wou’d  hardly  arise  any 
thing  to  elevate  the  mind  or  prompt  it  to  extraordinary  exertions.  Why  then 
shou’d  we  expect  more  from  this  Assembly  than  from  those  of  the  several 
States — unless  M.  l’Enfant’s  elevation  of  the  ceiling  may  be  supposed  to  elevate 
the  Disputants.  . . . 


178  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

In  1781,  shortly  after  Arthur’s  return  to  America  and  his  successful 
defense  before  Congress,  he  was  elected  a member  of  the  Virginia  As- 
sembly and  represented  Virginia  in  Congress  from  1782  to  1785.  On 
April  24,  1784,  he  was  appointed  one  of  the  commissioners  to  negotiate 
treaties  with  the  western  Indians,  an  occupation  which  he  did  not  relish. 
According  to  Edmund  C.  Burnett,  Arthur  Lee  had  a principal  share  in 
the  negotiation  of  the  treaty  of  Fort  Stanwix,  October  22,  1784,  and 
that  of  Fort  McIntosh,  January  21,  1785.  Elected  later  to  the  Board  of 
Treasury,  he  continued  to  serve  in  Congress  and  also  in  the  Virginia 
Flouse  of  Delegates,  until  his  retirement  in  1789.  He  supported  his 
brother  Richard  Henry  in  opposing  the  adoption  of  the  Federal  Con- 
stitution without  measures  to  safeguard  civil  liberties. 

John  Adams  refers  to  Arthur  Lee  as  "a  man  of  whom  I can  not  think 
without  emotion;  a man  too  early  in  the  service  of  his  country  to  avoid 
making  a multiplicity  of  enemies;  too  honest,  upright,  faithful  and 
intrepid  to  be  popular;  too  often  obliged  by  his  principles  and  feelings 
to  oppose  Machiavellian  intrigues,  to  avoid  the  destiny  he  suffered.  This 
man  never  had  justice  done  him  by  his  country  in  his  lifetime,  and  I fear 
he  never  will  have  by  posterity.” 

The  grant  of  a tract  of  land  in  the  province  of  Maine  was  given  to 
Lee  "and  his  heirs  forever,”  by  the  State  of  Massachusetts.  Possibly  this 
gift  came  through  the  influence  of  the  Adams  family.  However,  it  was 
not  New  England  Arthur  selected  for  the  home  of  his  latter  years,  but 
the  South. 

Glimpses  of  Arthur’s  personal  life  during  this  period  are  given  in 
numerous  letters  preserved  in  the  Shippen  papers.  Nancy  Shippen  writes 
much  about  her  uncle  in  her  Journal  Book: 

My  Linde  Arthur  Lee  came  to  spend  the  day  with  me  & we  spent  it  very 
merrily  & happily,  in  the  evening  we  went  accompanied  by  my  fair  neighbor  to 
take  a pleasant  walk  in  the  fields — we  had  not  walked  far  when  we  perceived  a 
small  house  at  the  foot  of  [the]  hill  with  a little  green  lawn  before  the  door  & 
a very  little  garden  on  the  right  hand  full  of  vegetables  & a few  flowers — the 
neatness  of  the  place  temped  us  to  walk  in  where  we  found  a venerable  old  man 
& his  wife  & dog  which  made  the  whole  of  this  poor  family  the  old  man  was 
too  old  to  work,  & so  the  wife  who  is  not  much  younger  gathers  wild  herbs  & 
carries  them  on  her  head  to  the  market  which  is  five  miles  from  where  she  lives — 
in  order  to  get  a living — I asked  her  what  she  lived  on,  she  said  a little  bread 
when  she  could  get  it,  or  anything  else — in  a very  hospitable  manner  she  offered 
us  some  of  a very  brown  loaf  she  had  just  made;  we  accepted  it  because  it  would 
give  her  pleasure — My  uncle  laid  a piece  of  silver  on  their  clean  wooden  table 
which  the  old  woman  did  not  perceive  till  we  were  going  away  when  she  hon- 


Arthur  Lee:  From  the  original  portrait  by  Charles  Willson  Peale,  now  in  possession  of 
the  Virginia  Historical  Society,  to  whom  it  was  presented  by  Charles  Carter  Lee. 


180  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

estly  offered  it  to  us,  thinking  it  was  left  by  mistake — it  was  returned  to  her  with 
assurances  of  our  good  opinion  of  her — It  was  late  before  we  got  home  & we 
talk’d  much  of  our  little  adventure. 

Although  referring  to  the  regions  of  Philadelphia  as  "sober,”  Arthur 
Lee  found  much  to  intrigue  him  there  in  the  fascinations  of  the  ladies. 
Despite  his  experience  in  Berlin,  Paris,  and  London,  he  was  curiously 
diffident  when  it  came  either  to  "amours”  or  matrimonial  advances  at 
home.  As  his  letters  to  Nancy  show,  he  engaged  her  to  make  his  mar- 
riage proposals  for  him — to  successive  young  ladies!  When  all  failed, 
he  wistfully  resigned  himself,  at  the  age  of  forty-nine,  to  the  permanent 
state  of  single  blessedness. 

In  1789,  Arthur’s  brother-in-law,  Dr.  Shippen,  writes  to  Tom  in  Lon- 
don: "Your  Uncle  Arthur  spent  3 days  with  us  last  week  on  his  way  to 
Virginia  to  return  in  3 weeks.  He  proposes  to  resign  this  year  & go  to 
his  farm — is  well  and  wishes  to  hear  of  your  reception  at  Ld.  Lands- 
downs  & of  your  close  attention  at  Westminster  Hall.” 

After  his  retirement  from  public  life  Arthur  returned  to  Virginia. 
The  day  before  he  left  Shippen  House,  his  sister  Alice  wrote  to  her  son: 

. . . Your  dear  Uncle  will  take  this  to  Baltimore  & send  it  by  Post,  he 
sets  out  tomorrow  for  Virginia  & I must  again  part  with  a Brother  most 
dear  to  me  as  such  but  he  is  much  more  so  for  his  many  virtues  the  more 
I am  with  him  the  more  I admire  him  as  the  Citizen  & the  Patriot.  After 
Serving  his  Country  with  Zeal  & faithfulness,  after  Sacrificing  himself  in  de- 
tecting the  plots  of  the  British  Ministry  a-gainst  us  & after  a second  sacrifice  of 
himself  in  discovering  the  villiany  of  those  in  whom  we  had  placed  our 
confidence  he  now  manifests  his  disinterestedness  in  serving  us  by  shewing 
the  greatest  calmness  & patience  under  the  ingratitude  & injustice  with  which  he 
is  treated  & is  continually  sugesting  & to  us  the  wisest  measures  [word  inde- 
cipherable} & wishing  the  best  things  for  this  Country  from  w.ch  he  himself  has 
nothing  to  expect.  He  returns  to  Philadelphia]  in  the  Spring.4  . . . 

Arthur  bought  a plantation  in  Middlesex  County  near  Urbanna,  then 
the  county  seat,  and  during  the  eighteenth  century  one  of  the  busiest 
of  the  Rappahannock  ports.  Its  original  seventeenth  century  name  of 
Nimcock  or  Wormeley’s  Creek  had  been  changed  in  1705  to  the  city  of 
Anne — Urbanna — in  honor  of  Queen  Anne.  The  reason  Arthur  selected 
Urbanna  as  his  home  is  not  clear.  Possibly  it  was  because  certain  of  his 
most  congenial  friends  lived  near  by:  the  Wormeleys  at  Rosegill,  the 
Grvmes  family  at  Brandon,  the  Carters  at  Corotoman. 

Lee  named  his  country  seat  Lansdowne,  in  memory  of  his  friendship 

4Letter  from  A.  Shippen  to  her  son.  From  original  letters  loaned  the  writer  by  Dr.  Lloyd  P. 
Shippen. 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  181 

with  Lord  Shelburne,  Marquis  of  Lansdowne,  and  pleasant  visits  to  his 
country  home  in  England,  Bow-Wood  Park. 

The  house  that  stands  at  Urbanna  today  in  the  center  of  the  once 
carefully  kept  garden,  is  of  stately  Georgian  aspect,  even  with  the  addi- 
tions and  changes  of  the  eighteen  eighties.  If  this  is  the  original  Lans- 
downe House  built  by  Arthur  Lee,  his  fear  of  "indegence,”  of  which 
he  wrote  his  nephew,  was,  happily,  not  realized.  Another  letter  to  Tom 
Shippen  written  by  Arthur,  March  26,  1792,  refers  to  Lansdowne: 

...  I have  been  occupied  totally  with  my  farm,  planning  fields,  ditches  & 
enclosures.  I have  sowed  eight  acres  with  clover  seed,  alone  & two  with  the 
addition  of  plaister  of  Paris;  you  shall  know  the  result.  I have  planted  some 
hundreds  of  locust,  weeping  willows,  rose  bushes  etc.  etc.  about  my  house, 
which  I intend  to  make  a wilderness  of  sweets.  I take  to  my  Farm  as  naturally 
as  your  little  Boy  does  to  his  bottle,  & am  not  less  fond  of  it.  We  shall  be  in 
our  infancy  when  you  come  to  see  us  in  the  Summer  but  very  happy  in  receiving 
you. 

Thus,  Arthur  Lee  settled  down  benignly  in  his  "wilderness  of  sweets,” 
evidently  glad  to  take  up  again  the  study  of  botany  to  which  he  was 
devoted,  to  farm  on  a small  scale,  and  to  make  a home  in  which  to  receive 
his  friends  and  kinspeople.  According  to  the  historian  Campbell,  Ar- 
thur Lee  "meditated  writing  a history  of  the  American  Revolution.” 
It  was  difficult  for  him  to  readjust  his  life.  Much  of  the  time  he  was 
melancholy  and  yearned  for  the  delights  that  once  were  his  when  he 
lived  in  London  and  had  a little  garden  on  the  Thames.  Thoroughly 
disillusioned  with  public  life — and  politics — as  were  all  of  his  brothers, 
Arthur  was  content  to  sow  clover  seed,  plant  rose  bushes,  read  his  well- 
loved French  books.  For  he  had  at  Lansdowne,  those  cherished  French 
books  and  manuscripts  he  mentions  in  his  will,  and  many  things  associ- 
ated with  his  life  at  European  courts:  his  cloth  of  silver  coverlet  and  his 
"gold  enameled  Snuff  Box  set  with  diamonds,”  presented  to  him  by  the 
King  of  France  through  the  Comte  de  Vergennes;  his  gold  sleeve  but- 
tons "with  pictures  in  them,”  his  diamond  ring,  his  plate — and  his  red 
and  white  "China  of  Sevres.”  But  he  did  not  long  enjoy  his  quiet  re- 
treat, for  he  died  on  December  12,  1792. 

Shortly  before  Arthur’s  death  Richard  Henry,  who  had  been  ill  for 
several  years,  resigned  from  the  United  States  Senate  and  retired  from 
all  public  activities.  He  returned  to  Chantilly,  never  again  to  leave  it,  ex- 
cept to  come  after  Arthur’s  death  and  probate  his  will  at  Urbanna. 

After  their  triumph  in  the  political  affairs  of  the  nation,  when  Rich- 
ard Henry  and  his  three  younger  brothers  had  reached  the  full  tide  of 


182 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


their  power,  the  ebb  set  in.  Their  opposition  to  the  adoption  of  the 
Federal  Constitution  created  misunderstandings  and  misinterpretation 
of  their  efforts — and  their  motives — on  all  sides.  They  and  many  other 
patriots  with  them  felt  that  the  right  of  self-government  achieved  by  the 
American  Revolution  was  at  stake.  Their  concern  is  expressed  in  a letter 
which  Richard  Henry  Lee  wrote  Patrick  Henry  September  14,  1789: 

The  amendments  were  far  short  of  the  wishes  of  our  convention,  but  as  they 
are  returned  by  the  Senate  they  are  certainly  much  weakened.  The  most  essential 
danger  from  the  present  system  arises,  in  my  opinion,  from  its  tendency  to  a 
consolidated  government  instead  of  a Union  of  confederated  States 

In  their  endeavor  to  introduce  changes  while  the  Constitution  was 
still  before  Congress,  Richard  Henry  Lee  and  William  Grayson  wrote 
on  September  28,  1789,  to  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Representatives 
of  Virginia  that  they  had  been  unable  to  effect  the  changes  named  in  their 
instructions  as  delegates: 

Sir, 

We  have  now  the  honor  of  enclosing  the  proposition  of  Amendments  to  the 
Constitution  of  the  United  States  that  has  been  finally  agreed  upon  by  Con- 
gress. We  can  assure  you  Sir  that  nothing  on  our  part  has  been  omitted  to  pro- 
cure the  success  of  those  radical  Amendments  proposed  by  the  Convention,  and 
approved  by  the  Legislature  of  our  country,  which  as  our  Constituent,  we  shall 
always  deem  it  our  duty,  with  respect  and  reverence  to  obey.  The  journal  of  the 
Senate  herewith  transmitted,  will  at  once  shew  how  exact  and  how  unfortunate 
we  have  been  in  this  business.  It  is  impossible  for  us  not  to  see  the  necessary 
tendency  to  consolidated  empire  in  the  national  operation  of  the  Constitution, 
if  no  further  amended  than  now  proposed.  And  it  is  equally  impossible  for 
us  not  to  be  apprehensive  for  Civil  Liberty,  when  we  know  of  no  instance  in  the 
records  of  history,  that  shew  a people  ruled  in  freedom  when  subject  to  one  un- 
divided government,  and  inhabiting  a territory  so  extensive  as  that  of  the  United 
States:  And  when,  as  it  seems  to  us,  the  nature  of  man  and  of  things  join  to 
prevent  it.  The  impracticability  in  such  case  of  carrying  representation  suf- 
ficiently near  to  the  people  for  procuring  their  confidence  and  consequent 
obedience,  compels  a resort  to  fear  resulting  from  great  force,  and  excessive 
power  in  government.  Confederated  Republics,  where  the  federal  hand  is  not 
possessed  of  absorbing  power,  may  permit  the  existence  of  freedom,  whilst  it 
preserves  union,  strength,  and  safety.  Such  amendments  therefore,  as  may 
secure  against  the  annihilation  of  the  State  governments  we  devoutly  wish  to  see 
adopted. 

If  a persevering  application  to  Congress  from  the  States  that  have  desired 
such  amendments  should  fail  of  its  object,  we  are  disposed  to  think,  reasoning 
from  causes  to  effects,  that  unless  a dangerous  apathy  should  invade  the  public 
mind,  it  will  not  be  many  years  before  a constitutional  number  of  Legislatures 
will  be  found  to  demand  a Convention  for  the  purpose. 

We  have  sent  a complete  set  of  the  Journals  of  each  house  of  Congress,  and 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  183 

thro  the  appointed  channel  will  be  transmitted  the  Acts  that  have  passed  this 
Session,  in  these  will  be  seen  the  nature  and  extent  of  the  judiciary,  the  estimated 
expences  of  the  Government,  and  the  means,  so  far  adopted,  for  defraying  the 
latter. 

We  beg  Sir  to  be  presented  with  all  duty  to  the  honorable  House  of  Repre- 
sentatives, and  to  assure  you  that  we  are,  with  every  sentiment  of  respect  and 
esteem 

The  Lees  were  convinced  that  the  Constitution  pending  before  Con- 
gress endangered  the  cause  of  civil  liberty  to  which  they  had  dedicated 
their  lives.  These  ideas  Richard  Henry  again  voices  in  a letter  to  George 
Mason  of  Gunston  Hall: 

It  seems  pretty  clear  at  present,  that  four  other  states,  viz.  North  Carolina, 
New-York,  Rhode  Island,  and  New-Hampshire,  will  depend  much  upon  Vir- 
ginia for  their  determination  on  the  convention  project  of  a new  constitution; 
therefore  it  becomes  us  to  be  very  circumspect  and  careful  about  the  conduct  we 
pursue,  as,  on  the  one  hand,  every  possible  exertion  wisdom  and  firmness 
should  be  employed  to  prevent  danger  to  civil  liberty,  so,  on  the  other  hand,  the 
most  watchful  precaution  should  take  place  to  prevent  the  foes  of  union,  order, 
and  good  government,  from  succeeding  so  far  as  to  prevent  our  acceptance  of 
the  good  part  of  the  plan  proposed. 

To  Samuel  Adams  Lee  he  writes: 

But  I think  that  the  new  constitution  (properly  amended)  as  it  contains  many 
good  regulations  might  be  admitted.  And  why  may  not  such  indispensable 
amendments  be  proposed  by  the  conventions,  and  returned  with  the  new  plan 
to  Congress,  that  a new  general  convention  may  so  weave  them  into  the  prof- 
fered system  as  that  a web  may  be  produced  fit  for  freemen  to  wear? 

When  the  Federal  Constitution  was  before  Congress,  Lee  was  its  most 
outspoken  critic  and  led  the  forces  opposed  to  its  adoption,  so  long  as  it 
lacked  a bill  of  rights  and  the  other  measures  his  group  held  essential. 
All  the  strength  he  had  left  was  concentrated  upon  the  fight  to  bring  to 
fruition  the  ten  amendments  he  with  others  advocated.  In  this  he  was 
successful.  In  speaking  of  his  stand  he  wrote  Tom  Shippen  on  February 
5,  1794,  from  Chantilly: 

. . . You  are  certainly  not  mistaken  in  your  opinion  that  I love  my  Country 
- — This  passion  (if  it  may  be  so  called)  has  been  deeply  engraved  upon  my 
mind  soon  after  it  became  capable  of  reflection — And  perhaps  it  may  be  owing 
to  this  love  of  my  country  with  opportunities  of  knowledge  furnished  by  long 
& attentive  public  service  together  with  that  period  of  life  when  Confidence  is 
a plant  of  slow  growth;  that  I politically  differ  from  some  persons  whose  opin- 
ion on  any  other  occasion  would  command  the  most  respectful  attention.  . . . 5 

During  the  time  Richard  Henry  Lee  was  in  the  United  States  Senate 

5Shippen  Papers,  Vol.  II,  Library  of  Congress.  This  letter  has  not  been  collated  with  the 
original. 


Signature  sheet  of  the  Treaty  of  Alliance  between  the  United  States  and  France,  signed  February  6,  1778. 


186  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

(March  4,  1789-October  8,  1792)  he  served  on  innumerable  committees 
and  took  a most  active  part  in  helping  to  build  the  government. 

A few  of  the  outstanding  reports  made  by  him  in  the  First  Congress 
are:  On  the  time,  place  and  manner  of  inauguration  of  the  President; 
On  the  proper  title  for  the  President  of  the  United  States  (Recommends 
that  the  President  be  addressed  as  "His  Highness,  the  President  of  the 
United  States  of  America,  and  Protector  of  their  Liberties”);  On  the 
establishment  of  judiciary  (he  reported  the  bill  to  establish  courts) ; 
On  the  bill  for  making  further  provision  for  payment  of  debts  of  the 
United  States;  On  the  public  debt  (Recommending  duties  to  be  levied 
on  imports;  list  of  articles  and  amount  of  duties  to  be  levied  on  each), 
and  On  allowing  pensions  to  persons  disabled  in  the  service  of  the 
United  States.6 

Richard  Henry  Lee  was  at  the  head  of  the  committee  to  which  was 
committed  the  bill  "An  act  to  enable  the  officers  and  soldiers  of  the 
Virginia  line,  on  continental  establishment,  to  obtain  titles  to  certain 
lands  lying  northwest  of  the  river  Ohio,  between  the  Little  Miami  and 
Sciota.”  On  July  21,  1790,  he  reported  the  bill  without  amendment.7 

Richard  Henry  Lee  had  an  important  share  in  the  creation  of  that 
great  instrument  of  government,  the  Northwest  Ordinance. 

Besides  Lee’s  service  as  a member  of  Congress,  Virginia  Assemblyman,  Presi- 
dent of  Congress,  and  first  United  States  Senator  from  Virginia  during  this 
period  so  important  in  American  political  and  constitutional  development,  he 
maintained  a correspondence  still  more  extensive  apparently  than  before.  He 
added  some  threescore  persons,  many  of  whom  were  conspicuous  in  home  and 
foreign  affairs,  to  the  ten  or  more  prominent  public  men  he  had  retained  from 
among  the  correspondents  of  the  earlier  time. 

The  letters  disclose  the  inner  workings  of  Congress  and  abundantly  show 
Lee’s  continued  devotion  to  the  cause  of  independence  and  to  the  union  of  the 
states  under  the  Confederation,  for  both  of  which  he  had  moved  in  Congress 
in  1776.  Even  while  in  the  Virginia  Assembly  he  kept  national  ends  in  mind, 
and  like  Jefferson,  had  a vision  of  the  West.  He  pressed  his  state  for  a cession 
of  her  claims  to  the  lands  beyond  the  Ohio  that  Maryland  might  accede  to  the 
Union  and  that  there  might  be  a national  domain  from  which  new  states  could 
be  created.8 

To  the  political  complications  of  the  late  seventeen-eighties  were 
added  in  the  next  decade  the  beginnings  of  American  diplomatic  dif- 
ficulties. Friendship  with  France  was  imperilled  by  the  Revolution  of 

“The  complete  list  of  Richard  Henry  Lee’s  Reports,  with  a brief  digest  and  analysis,  has 
been  compiled  by  Dr.  Hugh  Morrison  of  the  Library  of  Congress. 

7Senate  Journal,  July  21,  22,  1790. 

sLetters  of  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Vol.  2,  by  James  Curtis  Ballagh.  By  permission  of  The  Mac- 
millan Company,  publishers. 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  187 

1793.  Washington’s  stand  against  alliance  with  a France  in  chaos  and 
the  clamor  leading  to  Genet’s  recall;  the  strained  relations  with  England 
and  the  ugly  machinations  of  the  Jay  Treaty,  which  bridged  with  cob- 
webs the  widening  chasm  between  the  United  States  and  Europe,  brought 
profound  disillusionment  to  the  patriots  of  1776.  "Politics  is  the  science 
of  fraud,”  Richard  Henry  said  to  Tom  Shippen.  "The  world  seems 
crazy,”  Frank  Lee  said  in  a letter  from  Williamsburg  early  in  this  decade, 
"and  we  old  people  must  scuffle  with  it,  as  well  as  we  can,  for  our  few 
days  of  existence.” 

"We  old  people!”  What  a strange  phrase  for  the  Stratford  Lees  who 
had  so  short  a time  ago  been  the  young  leaders  of  a young  nation! 

For  them  indeed  the  tide  was  going  out. 

On  March  8,  1794,  Richard  Henry  Lee  wrote  to  the  President  of  his 
increasing  infirmities  and  received  Washington’s  affectionate  good 
wishes  for  his  friend’s  return  to  health: 

I learn  with  regret  that  your  health  has  continued  bad  ever  since  I had  the 
pleasure  of  seeing  you  at  Shuter’s  Hill.  Warm  weather,  I hope,  will  restore  it. 
If  my  wishes  could  be  of  any  avail,  you  assuredly  would  have  them.” 

Spring  came  to  Chantilly  with  the  narcissi  which  bloom  there  as  in 
no  other  spot  on  the  Potomac  cliffs.  But  it  brought  no  comfort  to  the 
master  of  the  house.  On  the  twenty-fourth  day  of  June  he  died  and  was 
buried  beside  his  first  wife,  his  parents,  and  grandparents  in  Burnt 
House  Fields. 

Today,  in  Independence  Hall,  Philadelphia,  on  either  side  of  the  door 
leading  into  the  room  in  which  the  Declaration  of  Independence  was 
signed,  is  a tablet.  The  one  on  the  right  commemorates  the  services  of 
George  Washington;  that  on  the  left,  those  of  Richard  Henry  Lee.  Thus 
appear,  linked  together  before  the  threshold  in  America’s  greatest  public 
shrine,  the  names  of  two  men  born  in  the  Colony  of  Virginia  in  the  same 
year,  on  neighboring  plantations — friends  throughout  their  lives  and  co- 
workers in  the  cause  for  independence. 

i i i i 

At  the  time  Richard  Henry  died,  his  brother  William,  at  Green  Spring 
was  ill,  despondent,  and  growing  blind.  He  had  been  back  in  Virginia 
for  about  ten  years;  but  his  health  was  broken  when  he  came  home 
from  the  ruin  of  his  place  and  fortunes  abroad,  shortly  after  the  Revo- 
lution. In  America  however,  he  had  a half  of  the  vast  Berkeley  and  Lud- 
well  estates  which  had  come  to  him  by  marriage.  At  first  he  made  his 

“March,  1933,  Magazine  of  the  Society  of  the  Lees  of  Virginia,  p.  74. 


The  site  of  Chantilly-on-the-Potomac,  home  of  Richard  Henry  Lee. 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  189 

home  in  the  old  Castle  built  by  Governor  Berkeley  one  hundred  and 
forty  years  before. 

It  had  been  the  birthplace  and  early  home  of  his  wife,  Hannah  Philippa 
Lee.  But  as  she  was  preparing  to  return  to  it,  she  died  suddenly  at 
Ostend  and  was  buried  in  Bow  Church,  London,  beside  her  father  and 
her  great-grandfather,  the  first  Philip  Ludwell.  Her  two  daughters, 
Portia  and  Cornelia,  came  to  live  with  their  father  and  brother  at  Green 
Spring. 

William  Lee  engaged  Benjamin  Latrobe  to  design  a new  house  on 
rising  ground  at  the  rear  of  the  Castle,  which  was  in  a ruinous  condition, 
unfit  for  habitation,  and  he  tore  down  the  old  historic  structure. 

A letter  from  Frank  Lee  about  this  time  throws  light  on  the  situation 
of  both  brothers: 

Menokin,  30  April,  1795.  My  Dear  Brother  [William]:  I can  readily  con- 
ceive, and  it  is  with  very  great  concern,  the  distressed  situation  you  must  be  in; 
and  it  gives  me  pain  when  I reflect  how  little  it  is  in  my  power  to  assist  you. 
Mrs.  Lee  and  myself  are  little  fitted  for  the  fatigues  of  travelling;  she,  thank 
God!  seems  recovering  from  her  long  ill  state  of  health;  but  I have  no  reason 
to  expect  otherways  than  a regular  decline  of  the  small  portion  of  bodily  powers 
that  I at  present  possess;  for  the  last  twelve  months,  I feel  the  decline  very 
sensibly.  Were  we  ourselves  in  a proper  situation  we  have  at  present  no  con- 
veniency  for  travelling. 

I can’t  but  still  flatter  myself  that  the  good  weather  of  May  will  enable  you 
to  bear  easy  travelling,  which  would  probably  contribute  much  to  restore  you  to 
a tolerable  state  of  health.  As  to  worldly  matters,  I think  you  should  make 
your  mind  easy  on  that  score;  you  will  at  all  events  leave  a sufficiency  to  your 
children,  to  make  them  happy,  unless  they  are  much  wanting  to  themselves;  in 
which  case  millions  would  be  insufficient. 

It  gives  me  comfort  that  there  is  a prospect  of  procuring  you  a housekeeper, 
who  will  remove  many  of  your  domestic  inconveniences.  Mr.  Aylett  Lee  is 
seriously  very  confident  that  he  can  procure  one  against  whom  there  is  no  ob- 
jection; but  that  she  is  high  spirited  and  keeps  very  strict  hand  upon  the  servants; 
the  excess  of  which  may,  I think,  with  a little  prudence  be  qualified;  tho’  a 
Scotch  woman,  he  says,  from  particular  acquaintance,  he  knows  her  to  be  very 
cleanly.  He  has  just  left  us  for  the  district  court  at  Fredericksburg,  where  he 
is  to  make  the  necessary  inquiries,  settle  matters  and  write  you  by  post. 

I am  so  very  little  in  the  world  and  find  it  so  impossible  to  get  anybody  to  do 
any  business  for  me,  that  I am  obliged  to  have  recourse  to  Mr.  Wilson  for  a 
bill  for  Mr.  Thorp;  but  I have  reason  to  hope  it  will  not  fail  a second  time.  The 
world  seems  crazy,  and  we  old  people  must  scuffle  with  it,  as  well  as  we  can, 
for  our  few  days  of  existence.  With  the  warmest  wishes  that  you  may  recover  a 
better  state  of  health,  I am,  my  dear  Brother,  yours  most  affectionately. 

Less  than  two  months  later  William  died,  June  27,  1795,  and  was 


190  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

buried  in  the  churchyard  at  Jamestown  Island.  His  daughters  were  en- 
trusted to  the  guardianship  of  Frank  and  Becky  Lee.  In  his  will,  William 
freed  all  of  his  slaves  and  provided  for  them.  The  library  at  Green 
Spring  he  bequeathed  to  Bishop  Madison. 

Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  was  now  the  last  survivor  of  the  famous  broth- 
ers. Years  before  they  withdrew  from  public  life,  he  had  sought  to 
retire  from  politics  and  had  finally  succeeded.  At  Menokin  there  was 
peace.  Two  years  later,  in  the  winter  of  1797,  the  end  came  for  Frank 
and  his  beloved  wife,  Rebecca.  On  January  25  of  this  year,  Tom  Ship- 
pen  wrote  from  Williamsburg  to  his  parents  in  Philadelphia: 

My  poor  uncle  Frank  has  paid  his  last  debt  to  nature,  following  Mrs  Lee 
who  went  a few  days  before  him.  I have  no  doubt  but  her  death  hastened  his, 
as  her  constant  attendance  upon  him  is  said  to  have  occasioned  the  illness  which 
proved  fatal  to  her. 

William  L Lee  has  in  consequence  of  these  two  unexpected  deaths  sent  here 
for  a chariot  to  bring  his  sisters  who  both  lived  at  Menoken  to  Green  Spring 
where  they  will  live  henceforward  in  all  probability  with  him.  . . . 

. . . Love  to  all  friends  my  dear  Mother  last  of  the  Stratford  Lees  in  par- 
ticular. 

Yours  always  and  ever  ye  same 

Th:  L:  Shippen 

Thus  passed  the  last  of  the  patriot  brothers.  Philip  had  died  at  the  time 
when  the  first  shot  of  the  Revolution  was  heard  round  the  world; 
Thomas  Ludwell,  at  the  moment  the  light  of  help  from  France  streamed 
over  America’s  dark  horizon,  light  that  his  brother  Arthur  helped  to 
bring. 

Arthur,  Richard  Henry,  William,  and  Frank  died  in  the  space  of  five 
years,  between  1792  and  1797.  Of  all  the  family,  but  one  remained — the 
youngest  sister,  Alice  Lee  Shippen.  She,  alone,  of  this  generation  of  the 
Stratford  Lees,  was  to  live  into  the  new  century. 

i i i i 

The  public  services  of  the  Lees  of  Stratford  are  impressively  set  forth 
in  the  county,  state,  and  national  documents  initiated,  composed  and 
directed  by  them.  They  begin  with  the  Treaty  of  Lancaster,  initiated  and 
brought  to  a successful  conclusion  by  Thomas  Lee  in  1744.  The  second 
papers  of  import  to  the  Thirteen  Colonies  came  twenty  years  later,  the 
Address  to  the  King  and  the  Memorial  to  the  House  of  Lords,  drawn  by 
Richard  Henry  Lee.  They  were  his  first  public  productions. 

The  Westmoreland  Resolves,  initiated  by  Thomas  Ludwell  Lee  and 
adopted  at  Leedstown  in  1766,  were  drafted  by  Richard  Henry,  and 
signed  by  the  four  brothers  and  two  of  their  Lee  cousins.  For  more  than 


VINCIT  AMOR  PATRIAE  LAUDUMQUE  IMMENSA  CUPIDO  191 

fifty  years  the  original  document  was  among  the  historic  papers  kept  at 
Stratford  Hall. 

The  Westmoreland  Resolutions  of  1774  and  of  1775  were  drawn  up 
by  Richard  Henry  Lee.  In  the  latter  year  he  wrote  his  Address  to  the 
People  of  Great  Britain  and  signed  the  Olive  Branch  Petition,  which, 
through  his  brother  Arthur,  was  presented  to  the  King. 

Then  came  the  Lee  Resolution,  a pivotal  document  in  the  nation’s 
history,  offered  by  Richard  Henry  Lee  in  the  Continental  Congress,  June 
7,  1776,  adopted  July  2,  and  ratified  July  4 in  the  form  of  the  Declaration 
of  Independence,  signed  by  Richard  Henry  and  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee. 

Arthur  Lee  was  one  of  the  four  makers  and  signers  of  the  document 
recording  the  first  public  recognition  of  the  independence  of  the  United 
States  by  a foreign  power — the  Treaty  of  Amity  and  Commerce  and 
Alliance  eventual  and  defensive  between  the  United  States  and  France — 
negotiated  in  Paris  and  signed  there,  February  6,  1778. 

In  chronological  order  these  documents  are: 

1744:  The  Lancaster  Treaty. 

1764:  Address  to  the  King. 

1764:  Memorial  to  the  House  of  Lords. 

1766:  The  Westmoreland  Resolves  or  The  Leedstown  Resolutions. 

1774:  The  Westmoreland  Resolutions  of  ’74. 

1775:  The  Westmoreland  Resolutions  of  ’75. 

1775 : Address  to  the  People  of  Great  Britain. 

1775:  The  Olive  Branch  Petition. 

1776:  The  Lee  Resolution  for  Independence. 

1776:  The  Declaration  of  Independence. 

1778:  Treaty  of  Alliance  with  France. 

1787:  The  Tenth  Amendment  to  the  Federal  Constitution. 


CHAPTER  IX:  ALICE  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  SHIPPEN  HOUSE 


ALICE  LEE  SHIPPEN  had  a definite  part  in  the  lives  of  her  patriot 
brothers  throughout  the  period  of  their  most  active  public  serv- 
* ice.  It  was  the  part  of  Martha;  but  it  had  a special  significance 
and  use,  for  Alice  made  a home  in  Philadelphia  for  her  brothers.  Her 
house  became  theirs.  All  that  she  and  her  husband,  Dr.  William  Shippen, 
Jr.,  had  was  freely  shared  with  her  kinspeople  and  their  Virginia  com- 
patriots. At  a time  when  most  of  the  taverns  in  the  capital  city  of  the 
United  Colonies  were  practically  uninhabitable  and  the  food  disastrous 
to  taste  and  health  alike,  Shippen  House  provided  a dwelling  place  with 
every  charm  and  comfort  and  a never  failing  welcome  for  Richard 
Henry  and  Frank,  their  families  and  their  friends,  and,  later  for  Arthur 
Lee. 

During  the  Revolution  Dr.  Shippen  was  Director  General  of  the 
Military  Hospitals  of  the  Armies  of  the  United  States.  He  thus  shared 
with  his  wife  and  her  family  their  devotion  to  the  cause  of  Independence. 

Although  Alice  had  been  a young  girl  at  Stratford  when  her  mother 
died  in  1749,  she  was  evidently  trained  in  the  art  of  household  manage- 
ment as  her  elder  sister  Hannah  was.  She  attended  the  Stratford  School 
with  her  brothers,  Frank  and  William,  and  evidently  received  the  same 
type  of  instruction  given  them.  She  was  well  grounded  in  Latin  and  the 
classics — an  exceptional  circumstance  for  girls  of  that  middle  eight- 
eenth century  period.  In  1758  Alice  acted  as  one  of  the  godmothers  of 
Thomas  Ludwell  Lee,  eldest  son  of  Richard  Henry  and  his  first  wife, 
Anne  Aylett.  The  record  from  the  family  Bible  (of  Richard  Henry  Lee) 
is  that  Thomas  "was  christened  by  the  Rev.  Mr.  Charles  Ross  on  the 
26th  day  of  November,  1758.  His  sponsors  were  the  Honourable  Philip 
Ludwell  Lee,  Gawen  Corbin,  Esq.,  Capt.  William  Allerton,  Miss  Alice 
Lee,  Mr.  Allerton  and  Miss  Mary  Aylett.” 

When,  in  the  spring  of  1760,  Alice  Lee  left  her  birthplace,  Stratford 
Hall,  to  sail  for  England,  she  had  not  expected  to  return  to  America. 
It  was  one  of  the  strange  plays  of  destiny  that  she  should  meet  in  London 
the  young  Philadelphia  medical  student,  William  Shippen,  Jr.,  marry 
him,  and  come  back  to  settle  in  his  own  city  in  a lovely  Georgian  house 
his  father  built. 

In  the  two  years  Alice  spent  in  London  she  probably  supplemented  her 
Virginia  experience  with  many  glimpses  of  the  household  machinery  in 
well-ordered  homes  of  her  kinsmen  and  friends  established  there.  For 
Shippen  House  seems  to  have  been  managed  by  Alice  Lee  with  skill 
and  with  the  quiet  order,  beauty,  and  comfort  of  an  English  home.  Yet 

[192] 


ALICE  LEE:  MISTRESS  OE  SHIPPEN  HOUSE 


193 


at  the  same  time,  it  had  the  elasticity,  informality,  and  charm  of  the  Vir- 
ginia household. 

George  Washington  often  refers  in  his  diaries  and  letters  to  this  Phila- 
delphia home  and  family  which  he  visited  so  frequently.  When  he  came 
to  Philadelphia  as  a delegate  to  the  First  Continental  Congress  in  1774, 
he  "lodg’d”  at  Shippen  House  with  Richard  Henry  and  Frank  Lee.  In 
1775  he  closes  a letter  to  Richard  Henry  Lee  in  Philadelphia  with  re- 
spectful compliments  to  "the  good  family  you  are  in,  your  brother,  See. 
I remain,  dear  sir,  Your  most  affectionate  humble  serv’t.  . . . P.S.  Tell 
Doctor  B [W.j  Shippen,  that  I was  in  hopes  that  his  business  would 
have  permitted  him  to  come  here  [as]  director  of  the  hospital.”  Another 
message  comes  from  the  camp  at  Cambridge,  "...  with  sincere  regard, 
for  my  fellow  labourers  with  you,  Doctor  Shippen’s  family,  &c.  I am, 
dear  Sir,  your  most  affectionate  serv’t.  ...”  On  April  4,  1776,  the  gen- 
eral writes  Lee:  "I  pray  you  to  make  my  best  wishes  acceptable  to  the 
good  doctor,  his  lady,  and  family,  Sec.”1 

Only  during  the  British  occupation  when  Dr.  Shippen  was  in  the  field, 
Alice  a refugee,  and  the  children  at  boarding  school  were  the  hospitable 
doors  of  Shippen  House  closed. 

Among  the  many  acknowledgments  for  courtesies  given  by  the  Ship- 
pen  family  to  the  Lees,  this  excerpt  from  one  of  Frank’s  letters  to  Tom 
Shippen  expresses  their  feeling: 

Menokin 

April  25,  1795 

. . . Tell  my  dear  friend  your  father,  that  I never  cease  to  feel  the  most  af- 
fectionate gratitude  for  his  many  kindnesses  to  us  during  our  stay  in  Philadel- 
phia, and  it  is  with  regret  that  1 now  begin  to  despair  of  ever  seeing  him  in  this 
Country  to  make  all  the  returns  in  my  power.  May  he  live  to  build  many  more 
houses  & enjoy  every  comfort  in  them,  interrupt  for  a moment  my  Sister’s 
happy  occupations  with  her  little  people,  by  reminding  her  of  my  affection.  Mfs 
Lee  joins  me  in  most  ardent  wishes  for  your  perfect  recovery  and  love  to  Mrs 
Shippen  & the  little  ones,  believe  me,  as  I am 

Yr  most  affe  friend 
F.  L.  Lee 

At  the  time  of  the  seventeen-fifties  when  Shippen  House  was  built,  on 
the  corner  of  South  Fourth  and  Locust  Streets,  the  section  was  Philadel- 
phia’s "Court  End” — the  fashionable  quarter  of  the  city.  Some  years 
later  Independence  Hall  arose  within  a short  distance  of  this  northern 
headquarters  of  so  many  of  the  Virginians. 

An  evening  described  by  Dr.  Shippen  in  a letter  dated  January  23, 


1Lee,  Memoir  of  R.  H.  Lee,  II,  7,  5,  11 


194  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

1797,  is  typical  of  many  gatherings  at  Shippen  House  in  the  last  third  of 
the  eighteenth  century: 

My  dear  Son — 

Yesterday  Mr.  Jefferson  sat  on  my  right  & Mr  Pinckney  on  my  left  hand — 
Gen1  Gunn  was  opposite  to  me  his  right  & left  were  supported  by  your  friends 
Rutledge  & Dr.  Jones  the  middle  collumn  consisted  of  R.  B.  Lee  Mr.  Collins 
Charles  Lee,  Gen.  V.  Cortland,  senator  Langdon  Dr.  Wistar — Majr.  Burrows 
& Dr  Blair  ask’d  a blessing.— Aristocrats  & democrats  a very  sociable  party — 
Jefferson  was  great  & Mr.  Pinckney  rose  much  in  my  good  opinion  as  a man  of 
sense  tho  oppos’d  by  ye  vice-president.  Your  mother  gave  us  one  of  her  old 
dinners,  they  sat  till  8 oClock.  . . . 

The  Congress  are  very  busy  & warm  in  determining  whether  they  are  obliged 
to  support  all  the  foreign  ministers  the  President  chooses  to  appoint — Brent 
made  a very  elegant  & strong  speech  against  it  yesterday.  Rutledge  praised  it 
much.  Gallatin  has  shone  too — I will  send  them  by  the  first  vessel.  . . . 

Around  the  lives  of  Alice  Lee  and  William  Shippen  and  their  two 
children,  Nancy  and  Tommy,  revolved  many  historic  and  dramatic  epi- 
sodes connected  with  Stratford  and  the  Lees.  From  old  diaries  and  fam- 
ily letters  a clear  picture  is  given  of  Alice  Lee  and  the  daily  life  at 
Shippen  House.  Where  John  Adams  speaks  of  her  as  "a  Religious  and 
Reasoning  Lady,”  Martha  Bland  (Mrs.  Theodoric  Bland  of  Cawsons, 
Virginia)  finds  her  "gay  and  agreeable.”  Nancy  Shippen  (Mrs.  Henry 
Beekman  Livingston)  writes  in  her  Journal  Book  that  her  mother  "is  a 
woman  of  strong  sense,  & has  a Masculine  understanding;  a generous 
heart,  & a great  share  of  sensibility.”  J.  B.  Cutting  paid  his  tribute  to  her 
in  September,  1791,  when  he  wrote  Tom:  "Forget  not  I beseech  you,  to 
express  to  your  best  of  mothers  my  just  sense  of  her  extraordinary 
strength  of  mind,  that  is  only  exceeded  by  the  strength  of  the  affections 
of  her  heart — Never  was  there  a [mjother  of  more  fortitude,  or  more 
maternal  fondness!” 

Alice  Lee’s  great-niece,  Lucy  Grymes  Lee  (Mrs.  Bernard  M.  Carter), 
was  on  intimate  terms  with  her  always  and  often  thanked  "Aunt  Shippen 
in  behalf  of  Her  two  daughters  Josephine  & Matilda”  for  various  gifts. 
One  note  "for  the  pretty  necklaces  you  sent  them  by  their  dear  Papa  and 
with  their  Mother  will  ever  fondly  cherish  the  remembrance  of  your 
affection  & kind  attentions.  ...” 

Through  the  hard  years  of  the  Revolution  when  Alice  was  separated 
so  long  from  her  husband  and  children,  especially  during  the  time  when 
she  was  at  Stratford,  her  anxious  care  for  her  family  never  faltered. 

On  January  17,  1778,  she  wrote  her  husband  from  Stratford: 

. . . it  is  now  two  months  since  I parted  with  our  dear  our  only  son,  the 


ALICE  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  SHIPPEN  HOUSE 


195 


pledge  of  our  love  & have  not  heard  once  from  him — surely  if  he  was  well  he 
wou’d  contrive  a letter  to  me,  he  is  certainly  ill  or  dead  of  that  vile  feaver  Crags 
son  had,  my  fears  render  me  so  miserable  it  is  impossible  for  me  to  stay  here 
where  I find  I cannot  hear  from  those  I love  most.  I shall  return  to  Frederick- 
Town  where  you  must  my  dear  Mr  Shippen  get  a lodging  for  me.  . . . 

. . . tell  me  if  you  think  our  dear  Girl  improves  by  being  with  Mrs  Rogers. 
I don’t  think  she  improves  in  her  writing,  I mean  the  manner  & pray  don’t  let 
her  wear  a ribbon  on  her  shoulders  it  will  certainly  make  her  crooked.  . . . 

After  the  Shippens  had  returned  to  their  home  in  Philadelphia,  Tom’s 
education  was  a matter  of  great  concern  to  his  mother,  as  this  letter  to 
him  at  William  and  Mary  shows: 

Philadelphia  20  November  1783 

I have  received  your  dear  welcome  letter  & thank  you  for  it.  . . . Tis  with 
difficulty  I can  support  your  absence  but  I have  long  learnt  to  prefer  your  inter- 
est to  mine.  I comfort  myself  that  you  are  receiving  instruction  under  the  most 
able  professors  among  yr  friends  & relations.  Give  my  love  to  them  particularly 
yr  Uncle  William.  Tell  him  I congratulate  him  on  his  arrival  in  his  Native 
country  where  I wish  he  may  long  be  happy  & usefull. 

Have  you  seen  a Pamphlet  publish’d  in  Virginia  on  the  injustice  of  our  paying 
British  debts?  Ask  yr.  Uncle  if  he  has  seen  it  & wh  he  woul’d  think  if  he  were 
told  yh  we  were  obliged  to  give  this  up  because  we  cT  not  carry  on  the  war  any 
longer  for  want  of  money.  Charles  Thomson  gives  your  Uncle  Arthur  all  the 
credit  for  the  removal  of  Congress  from  Philadelphia;  at  another  time  he 
wou’d  not  alow  him  the  honor  of  having  so  much  influence. 

Present  my  compliments  to  Mrs.  Wythe  Nelson  & Beal  & tell  them  I shall 
never  forget  their  politeness  to  you  & will  be  very  happy  to  execute  any  of  their 
commands  here.  Your  friend  Holingsworth  is  very  polite  to  me  & all  your  ac- 
quaintances appear  to  be  very  much  interested  in  your  welfare.  Your  Uncle  has 
left  us  & I am  very  much  concern’d  that  it  was  so  little  in  our  power  to  take 
proper  notice  of  him.  If  my  love  for  you  cou’d  be  encreasd  your  attention  to 
him  wou’d  have  encreased  it.  I feel  your  separation  from  me  every  day  more 
sensibly,  every  apartment  reminds  me  of  you.  I look  at  the  chair  where  you 
used  to  sit  & remember  with  the  most  tender  affection  how  you  made  me  forget 
the  hours  of  sickness  by  some  well  read  history  or  pleasing  conversation.  It 
pleased  because  it  was  to  the  advantage  of  every  one  you  spoke  of.  I must  see 
you  in  the  Spring  but  you  must  tell  me  how  long  your  vacancy  will  last.  I am 
very  glad  yr.  Papa  has  got  the  money  for  you.  I hope  he  will  always  have 
enough  for  you  to  exercise  your  humanity  as  well  to  carry  on  yr  studies  & I am 
happy  in  the  consideration  that  vou  may  be  trusted,  that  you  will  not  be  extrava- 
gant & I know  you  are  not  covetous.  . . . 

My  darling  son  you  have  turn’d  vour  thots  to  a particular  profession  but  I 
wish  you  to  consider  all  its  duties,  all  its  advantages  & disadvantages,  then  de- 
termine & always  remember  mv  dear  son  that  you  are  a candidate  for  eternity 
& carefully  guard  against  every  thing  that  you  find  by  experience  interferes  with 
that  grand  object.  Carefully  watch  over  your  heart  for  that  is  the  source  of  good 


196 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


& evil  in  yourself.  Bring  it  every  day  to  the  dear  Redeemer  to  be  renew’d. 
Acquaint  yourself  well  with  the  doctrines  of  Grace  & the  liberty  of  Man  & as 
the  mind  wants  daily  nurishment  as  well  as  the  body,  make  it  an  invariable  rule 
to  read  some  pious  author  especially  the  holy  Scriptures.  Nothing  can  be  above 
their  sublemnity;  their  subject  is  God,  their  precepts  are  perfect,  their  stories 
the  most  interesting,  and  their  examples  most  shining.  I wou’d  particularly 
recommend  the  Psalms  & the  book  of  Job.  How  high  are  his  tho’ts  of  God! 
How  pathetic  are  his  writings!  & as  you  have  increased  my  happiness  here 
increase  it  tenfold  hereafter  by  leting  me  spend  a happy  eternity  with  my 
darling  Child.  I write  as  if  this  were  in  your  own  power  & so  far  it  is.  The 
means  certainly  are  & a diligent  use  of  them  are  inseperably  connected  with  the 
end. 

Yr.  Father  & Sister  have  given  you  the  news  of  this  world.  Give  me  leave  to 
remind  you  of  the  most  joyful  news  from  heaven.  Jesus  Christ  is  come  into  the 
world  to  save  Sinners,  In  this  our  hearts  shou’d  rejoice  continually.  Never  dis- 
pute on  religion.  I know  it  will  answer  no  good  purpose.  Remember  to  men- 
tion yr.  friends  Washington,  Buchanan,  Walker  Ac  in  yr.  letters.  All  love  to  be 
remembered.  I am  with  all  my  heart 

Yr  Affb  Mother 

A.  L.  Shippen.2 

Her  affection  for  Tom  was  profound: 

"I  shall  think  every  minute  an  hour  & every  hour  a day  Until  I see 
you,”  she  exclaims.  "I  shall  long  for  the  spring  as  much  as  the  weary  for 
rest  or  the  fainting  for  Strength,  & do  you  my  dear  make  the  best  use  of 
your  time  & answer  my  highest  expectations  of  your  improvement  gratifie 
my  highest  wish.” 

Another  time  Alice  writes: 

...  we  are  now  enjoying  the  sweets  of  private  life  & only  want  you  to  add 
to  the  cheerfulness  of  our  fire-side — What  are  you  studying  my  dear  Son  do  you 
ever  turn  your  tho’ts  to  the  grand  Object  for  which  you  came  into  being?  remem- 
ber as  far  as  I have  an  interest  in  you  I have  devoted  you  to  serve  in  the  Church 
I beseech  you  offer  yourself  to  God  & beg  he  will  send  you  forth  to  labour  in 
His  Vineard  where  you  will  not  meet  with  the  reward  of  this  world  wch.  y[s] 
often  a sting,  a bate  at  best,  but  your  reward  will  be  certain  & everlasting, 
remember  the  heart  felt  speach  of  Cardenal  Wolsey  had  I said  he  in  the 
biterness  of  his  Soul,  served  my  God  with  half  the  Zeal  I’ve  served  my  King, 
He  wou’d  not  thus  have  left  me  in  my  old  age  &c. — God  bless  my  dear  Son  & 
lead  him  in  the  Way  everlasting — I am  with  much  affection  A the  most  ardent 
desire  for  your  Eternal  happiness — 

Your  Mother 


A.  Shippen 

Thus  Alice  shared  her  most  intimate  feelings  with  her  son.  Her  love 
of  the  country  is  particularly  expressed,  for,  having  spent  her  childhood 


20riginal  letter  from  Alice  Shippen.  From  Shippen  Papers. 


ALICE  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  SHIPPEN  HOUSE 


197 


at  Stratford,  she  was  never  satisfied  with  city  life.  One  April  she  wrote 
Tom: 

Farley  begins  to  look  gay  the  herds  are  [ ?]  the  flocks  are  bleating  and  the 
Lambs  are  frisking  about  two  little  calves  add  to  the  scene  and  they  all  look 
better  than  ever  I saw  these  Creatures  at  this  time  of  the  year  notwithstanding 
the  bitter  cold  we  have  had. 

Continuous  financial  sacrifices  were  made  by  Alice  Shippen  and  her 
husband  at  home  to  provide  the  sort  of  training  which  they  both  coveted 
for  their  gifted,  though  somewhat  irresponsible,  son.  Alice  made  several 
fruitless  efforts  to  bring  Tom  to  a realization  of  the  facts: 

. .1  have  sent  yr.  Hat  & money  for  yr  expences  & wT  send  a man 
& horse  if  it  was  in  my  power  but  you  can  come  with  the  other  young 
Gentlemen  of  this  place  & all  expences  must  be  saved  now.  ...” 

In  later  years  when  her  son  and  daughter  were  married  she  lavished  on 
their  children  the  same  love  and  care.  Nancy  says  in  her  journal  her 
mother  "spent  [a]  great  part  of  the  morning  in  my  Chamber  with  me — 
directing  & advising  me  about  bringing  up  my  sweet  Child — I need  it 
much — for  sure  I am  a very  young  & inexperienced  Mother.”  Again  she 
says  of  her  mother:  "I  always  find  myself  improved  after  having  heard 
her  talk.” 

Tom  Shippen’s  references  to  his  mother  in  his  diaries  when  he  had 
children  of  his  own,  give  a charming  picture  of  Alice  Lee  and  her  grand- 
children: 

My  mother  makes  us  a second  visit  with  Traveller  in  the  chair.  As  usual  she 
overflows  with  kindness  to  us,  dines  here  & returns  to  town  with  a fresh  horse 
in  the  afternoon.  I sup  upon  a bread  & custard  pudding  made  with  plums  by 
my  mother  for  the  children.  They  are  sweet  little  rogues.  . . . My  mother 
leaves  in  betimes:  William  wakes  up,  misses  her  and  roars  like  a bull  at  her 
loss  and  at  the  clandestine  manner  in  which  he  conceived  himself  to  have  [been] 
run  away  from  and  deserted  by  his  best  friend.  Monday.  My  mother  and  old 
John  arrive  and  at  5,  J B C on  horseback  who  was  to  have  escorted  my  mother. 
She  brings  the  long  expected  box  of  English  shoes  for  Betsy — 3 dozen  pair — 
and  Mrs  Livingston  & Miss  Swift  get  out  on  their  way  home  from  Mr  Bache’s 
to  look  at  and  admire  the  inimitable  shoes.  Betsy  is  ravished,  the  ladies  only 
pleased — sattin,  queen’s  silk,  jean  (?),  Spanish  leather,  embroidered  leather — 
Lord  [ ?]  what  a display  of  shoes! — a nice  supper  of  roasted  partridges  roasted 
potatoes  & oysters  crown  the  day.  . . . 

From  her  letters  it  is  evident  that  Alice’s  interests  were  not  limited  to 
her  family  alone.  She  sent  Tom  the  pamphlet  published  in  Virginia  on 
the  injustice  of  America’s  paying  British  debts.  Yet  patriot  though  she 
was,  she  had  ever  a tender  feeling  for  England.  "England  is  not  entirely 
to  blame!”  she  says  at  one  time  to  her  daughter.  Another  time  she  ex- 


198 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


presses  herself  thus:  "I  feel  I love  in  my  very  heart  the  true  liberty  of 
America  the  liberty  of  saying  & doing  everything  that  is  beautiful  & 
proper.”  With  intelligent  and  affectionate  interest  she  followed  the 
career  of  young  Tom  Shippen,  Jr.,  at  Princeton.  "Little”  Tom  used 
Latin  phrases  frequently  in  his  letters  to  his  grandmother. 

But  Alice  Lee  was  primarily  wife  and  mother,  and  the  mistress  of  a 
house  that  dispensed  hospitality  and  cheer  to  the  patriots  of  many  col- 
onies during  the  darkest  days  of  the  war. 

She  outlived  all  her  family  of  Stratford,  including  her  husband,  her 
son,  and  her  favorite  grandson.  Finances  continued  at  low  ebb.  No 
longer  did  Alice  have  her  own  home  but  kept  changing  her  places  of 
habitation  in  Philadelphia  and  its  environs.  During  her  last  sad  years 
she  was  not  only  estranged  from  her  daughter  but  also  became  totally 
blind.  She  died  in  her  eighty-first  year  and  was  buried  in  the  graveyard 
in  Arch  Street,  Philadelphia,  beside  the  body  of  her  husband. 

According  to  a penciled  notation  in  the  family  records,  dated  June  4, 
1836,  Nancy  Shippen  is  supposed  to  have  written  the  inscription  on  her 
parents’  tombstone: 

In  memory  of 
Dr.  William  Shippen 
who  departed  this  life 
July  11,  1808,  in  his  7 3rd  year. 

He  was  Father  & founder  of  the 
Medical  School 
In  this  City. 

at  which  he  presided  with  honor  near  50  years,  he  was  a Friend  of  virtue  & re- 
ligious, a protector  of  the  poor,  & when  he  fulfilled  the  duties  of  his  profession, 
in  which  he  was  very  eminent,  humanity  and  goodness  ivere  attending.  As  a 
husband,  father,  master,  brother,  friend  he  shone  conspicuously  & his  affability, 
urbanity,  & charity  were  so  great  that  all  must  conspire  to  a tribute  of  love  & 
sorrow. 

Here  also  lies 

with  six  of  the  infant  children,  his  wife, 

Alice  Lee  Shippen 
daughter  of  Col.  Lee  of  V a. 

who  died  March  25th  181 7,  in  the  85th  [81  st~]  year  of  her  age 
Endowed  with  great  talents,  she  was  also  a liberal 
friend  of  the  poor  & a 
Sincere  Christian 

Hark  the  trumpet  sounds  & the  tombs  burst, 

Awake,  arise,  the  Saviour  of  the  world  calls, 

He  triumphs  & eternity  opens. 

The  empire  of  death  is  at  an  end 

Here,  O GOD  are  we  & the  children  thou  hast  given  us. 


CHAPTER  X:  HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


NEVER,  perhaps,  were  two  sisters  more  unlike  in  temperament 
and  in  the  situation  and  condition  of  their  lives  than  Alice  and 
Hannah  Lee.  Aside  from  her  world  of  household  affairs  and 
the  nursery  where  she  was  her  own  mistress,  Alice  was  completely  sub- 
ordinated to  her  husband:  curiously  dependent  upon  his  will  and  de- 
cision. She  bowed  to  custom  and  conventionality  as  if  they  were  in 
themselves  a sort  of  religion  which  could  not  be  questioned.  Hannah, 
on  the  other  hand,  was  an  individualist.  She  was  independent,  resolute, 
unconventional,  and  courageous.  The  strange  drama  and  romance  that 
unfolded  in  her  life  set  her  apart  from  other  women  of  her  time.  They 
make  her  a figure  of  striking  interest. 

Hannah  Lee  was  the  first  daughter  and  third  child  of  Thomas  and 
Hannah  Ludwell  Lee.  Born  at  Matholic  in  1728,  her  earliest  recollec- 
tions were  of  Stratford,  where  the  family  moved  when  Hannah  was  two 
or  three  years  old.  She  passed  her  most  impressionable  years  in  singular- 
ly harmonious  and  happy  surroundings  and  had  the  opportunity  for 
personal  companionship  with  her  father  when  she  was  growing  up  as 
few  of  his  younger  children  had.  From  his  library  she  acquired  an 
interest  in  books  that  was  to  last  throughout  her  life.  Most  probably  she 
received  from  her  mother  careful  instruction  in  household  management 
and  arts  and  crafts.  Hannah  bound  a series  of  books,  one  of  which  is 
extant,  and  occasionally  made  a piece  of  furniture  with  her  own  hands. 

From  the  emphasis  then  placed  on  religious  instruction  for  young 
women  and  also  from  the  many  ecclesiastical  books  in  the  Stratford 
library,  Hannah  developed  the  profoundly  religious  turn  of  mind  that 
was  a characteristic  of  her  entire  life.  The  handmade  Book  of  Sermons , 
given  by  her  descendants1  to  the  present-day  Stratford  library,  is  one 
of  four  volumes  of  religious  discourses  and  commentaries,  which,  ac- 
cording to  family  tradition,  Hannah  compiled  and  bound  stoutly  in 
pigskin,  when  she  was  still  a young  girl.  These  volumes  went  with  her 
from  Stratford  when  she  married  Gawen  Corbin  of  Peckatone,  Gentle- 
man Justice  of  Westmoreland  County,  a member  of  the  House  of  Bur- 
gesses, and  later  of  the  Council. 

Hannah’s  wedding  was  the  only  one  to  take  place  at  Stratford  in  her 
parents’  lifetime.  Her  marriage  strengthened  the  relationship  already 
existing  between  the  Corbins  and  the  Lees  through  Hannah’s  grand- 

'Presented  to  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation  by  Miss  Mary  Lee  Murphy  and  R.  Staf- 
ford Murphy,  direct  descendants  of  Hannah  Lee  Corbin  through  her  daughter,  Martha  Corbin 
Turberville. 


[199] 


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Excerpt  of  original  letter  from  Hannah  Lee  Corbin  to  her  sister,  Alice. 


202 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


mother,  Laetitia.  Furthermore,  from  the  point  of  view  of  Hannah’s 
parents,  it  seemed  to  promise  permanent  financial  security  for  their 
daughter.  Love  was  not  always  considered  essential  to  marriage  in  the 
eighteenth  century. 

Peckatone  Plantation,  Hannah’s  new  home,  was  only  twenty  miles 
from  Stratford;  but  communication  does  not  appear  to  have  been  fre- 
quent. Like  Stratford  and  Chantilly,  Peckatone  was  on  the  Potomac, 
but,  unlike  them,  it  was  close  beside  the  water.  The  house  was  one  of 
the  old  landmarks  of  lower  Westmoreland  County,  dating  back  to  the 
earliest  river  settlement  in  that  region. 

In  1664  the  plantation  was  in  the  possession  of  Henry  Corbin,  one  of 
the  Old  Standers,  father  of  Laetitia,  who  married  the  second  Richard 
Lee,  and  of  Frances,  who  married  Edmund  Jenings,  Governor  of  the 
Colony.  The  mansion  with  its  surrounding  village  of  outbuildings  was 
built  by  Corbin  and  inherited  by  his  grandson,  Gawen  Corbin.  Here  it 
was  that  Hannah  Lee  came  as  a bride,  from  Stratford,  in  1748. 

Peckatone  in  1787  is  described  by  Hannah’s  niece,  Lucinda  Lee,  in  her 
journal  of  a Young  Lady  of  Virginia  as  a beautiful  situation  with  gar- 
dens extending  from  the  house  to  the  river:  "I  have  been  takeing  a very 
agreeable  walk  there,”  she  says.  She  refers  to  the  peach  orchard  where 
she  "eat  a great  many  fine  peaches.” 

The  house  was  standing  in  its  original  grandeur  until  1886,  when  it 
was  destroyed  by  fire.-'  In  an  article  from  The  Baltimorean  written  some 
forty  years  ago,  the  Rev.  G.  W.  Beale  describes  this  seventeenth  century 
house  which  was  Hannah  Corbin’s  home  after  she  left  Stratford: 

It  was  a spacious  and  massive  quadrangular  building,  composed  of  . . . 
bricks  with  immense  halls  and  wainscotted  rooms,  after  the  elaborate  fashion 
of  the  better  class  of  colonial  houses  of  the  17th  century.  A wide  platform, 
reached  by  broad  flights  of  stone  steps,  in  front  and  rear,  supplied  the  place  of 
porches,  and  offered  a pleasing  view  of  far  extending  lawn  and  fields  on  one 
side;  and  on  the  other  the  river  gleaming  through  the  intervening  yard-trees.  A 
wall  extended  from  one  corner  of  the  main  building  to  a brick  kitchen  and 
servants’  rooms;  and  on  the  opposite  side,  but  more  distant,  stood  the  spacious 


2Thomas  Tileston  Waterman  says  in  a letter  to  the  author,  April  13,  1936:  “As  the  ruins  of 
Peckatone  stood,  subsequent  to  the  fire  [of  1886],  they  showed  a building  of  the  first  importance 
in  Virginia  domestic  architecture.  It  was  in  the  style  of  Cleve.  nearby,  also  now  destroyed,  but 
lacked  the  rich  stone  trim  which  distinguished  the  latter  building.  Peckatone  was  rectangular, 
probably  about  40  by  70  feet,  and  surmounted  by  a hipped  roof.  The  roof  was  pierced  at  the 
ends  of  the  horizontal  ridge  by  two  great  chimney  stacks.  The  building  was  built  of  brick  laid 
in  Flemish  bond  with  gauged  brick  flat  arches,  base  and  strong  cores.  The  doorway  was  flanked 
by  three  windows  on  either  side.  The  same  proportion  of  openings  was  observed  here  as  at 
Cleve,  namely,  the  lower  windows  definitely  dominated  the  upper  ones  by  their  great  height,  in 
contrast  to  the  comparative  shortness  of  the  latter  windows.  It  is  probable  that  Peckatone 
in  its  heyday  was  one  of  the  most  satisfactory  of  all  the  18th  century  Virginia  domestic  designs. 
It  had  breadth,  simplicity,  and  grace.” 


View  of  the  Stratford  gardens  through  English  beeches. 


204  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

brick  stable.  Extensive  enclosed  grounds,  surrounded  the  mansion,  and  these 
were  adorned  with  many  noble  shade  trees,  a rich  green  sward,  and  gravelled 
walks. 

Hannah’s  life  as  mistress  of  Peckatone  comprised  the  same  homely 
duties  as  her  mother’s  at  Stratford.  But  apparently  she  had  her  father’s 
love  of  books  and  some  of  his  interest  in  public  affairs.  Her  literary 
judgment  seems  to  have  been  valued  by  the  men  of  her  family.  In  a 
letter  of  January,  1765,  to  her  cousin,  Squire  Lee  of  Lee  Hall,  Hannah 
shows  the  two  sides  of  her  life  in  amusing  juxtaposition: 

Dear  Sir 

I shall  send  tomorrow  for  the  Hogs  you  so  kindly  promiss  me,  And  as  Adam 
is  not  engaged  now  you  are  extremely  Wellcome  to  him  for  whatever  time  you 
want  him. 

I inclose  the  address,  it  pleases  me  better  than  the  others.  My  best  wishes  are 
ever  with  you  as  I am 

Dear  Sir 

Your  affece  cousin,  & 

Hble  servk 

Hannah  Corbin. 

Probably  Hannah  did  not  have  the  leisure  or  opportunity  for  wide 
reading,  but  she  continued  to  be  absorbed  in  religious  books. 

According  to  Bishop  Meade,  conditions  in  a number  of  the  parishes  of 
the  Established  Church  in  Virginia  were  then  deplorable.  Many  of  the 
clergy  spent  their  time  in  card-playing,  cock-fighting,  rum-drinking,  and 
horse-racing  rather  than  in  attending  to  their  parish  duties.  The  reli- 
gious life  of  the  poorer  classes  of  people — the  tenant  farmers,  inden- 
tured servants  and  slaves — was  ignored  in  a number  of  parishes. 

About  the  year  1760  the  Reverend  David  Thomas  came  to  Virginia 
from  Pennsylvania.  He  was  an  apostle  of  a new  cult,  that  of  the  pioneer 
Baptist  Society.  It  appealed  particularly  to  the  very  people  the  Estab- 
lished Church  did  not  reach  and  also  to  many  devout  members  of  the 
English  Church  who  did  not  approve  of  the  lax  conditions  then  so 
prevalent.  Elder  Thomas  traveled  through  the  lower  counties  of  the 
Northern  Neck  "to  propagate  the  pure  principles  of  Christianity.”  Ac- 
cording to  Semple’s  History  of  the  Rise  and  Progress  of  the  Baptists  in 
Virginia,  he  was  "a  burning  and  shining  light”;  and  people  went  many 
miles  to  hear  him  preach.  "When  they  arrived  and  heard  the  Gospel,  it 
proved  a sweet  savor  of  life.  They  returned  home;  God  built  them  up  by 
His  Spirit,  and  in  a short  time  they  . . . offered  an  experience  of  grace 
to  the  church,  and  were  baptized.  . . .”  In  the  Northern  Neck,  Elder 
Thomas  preached  to  large  audiences.  It  seems  likely  that  Hannah  Corbin 


HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


205 


heard  him,  that  she  joined  perhaps  with  the  very  listener  who  cried,  "O, 
that  I may  never  forget  that  sweet  sermon — a message  from  God  to  me 
that  day!” 

Hannah  left  the  Church  of  England  and  entered  the  Baptist  Society. 
She  refused  henceforth  to  attend  services  at  the  Established  Church  and 
was  accordingly  presented  to  the  Grand  Jury:  "May  29,  1764:  Hannah 
Ludwell  Corbin  for  not  appearing  at  her  parish  Church,  for  six  months 
past,”  runs  the  court  record  on  page  125  in  the  book  of  Court  Orders 
of  Westmoreland. 

To  her  sister  Alice,  Hannah  wrote:  "I  am  not  surprised  that  you  seem 
to  have  a mean  Opinion  of  the  Babtist  religion  1 believe  most  people  that 
are  not  of  that  Profession  are  perswaded  we  are  either  Enthusiasts  or 
Hypocrites.  But  my  dear  Sister  the  followers  of  the  Lamb  have  been 
ever  esteemed  so,  this  is  our  Comfort  And  that  we  know  in  whom  we 
have  believed.” 

The  great  revivals  which  were  to  stir  all  Virginia  before  the  end  of 
the  eighteenth  century  were  then  commencing.  "The  day-star  began  to 
dawn.”  Like  Lewis  Lunsford,  who  came  after  him,  Elder  Thomas  was 
"a  noble  champion  of  religious  liberty”  and  was  held  in  high  esteem  by 
Thomas  Jefferson  and  Patrick  Henry,  both  of  whom  he  highly  valued  as 
"friends  of  Liberty.” 

The  shocking  persecutions  heaped  at  first  upon  this  brave  minister 
and  other  early  missionaries  of  the  Baptist  faith  in  Virginia,  the  starva- 
tion, beatings,  imprisonment  and  martyrdom  they  suffered  in  a number 
of  counties  because  of  their  faith — fanned  to  white  heat  the  devotion 
of  their  followers,  the  masses  of  the  people.  The  movement  reached  the 
wealthy  planters  as  well.  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Steptoe,  later  the  mother-in-law 
of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  became  a devout  convert  to  the  new  religion. 
As  Semple  records,  she  was  "a  lady  of  the  first  rank  both  as  to  family 
and  fortune,”  and  lived  in  great  state  near  Westmoreland  Courthouse. 
Another  Baptist  convert  of  wealth  and  importance  in  Westmoreland 
was  Councillor  Carter  of  Nominy  Hall.  He  built  a little  church  at 
Nominy  for  the  Baptist  missionaries  and  for  a period  of  several  years 
was  one  of  their  strongest  moral  and  financial  supporters  in  the  North- 
ern Neck. 

However,  the  general  reaction  of  the  neighborhood  against  the  Baptist 
influence  is  voiced  by  Fithian: 

Sunday,  March  6.  Mr.  Lane  the  other  Day  informed  me  that  the  Anabaptists 
in  Louden  County  are  growing  very  numerous;  and  seem  to  be  encreasing  in 
affluence;  and  as  he  thinks  quite  destroying  pleasure  in  the  Country;  for  they 


206 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


encourage  ardent  Pray’r;  strong  and  constant  faith,  and  an  intire  Banishment 
of  Gaming,  Dancing,  and  Sabbath-Day  Diversions.  I have  also  before  under- 
stood that  they  are  numerous  in  many  County’s  in  this  Province  and  are  Gener- 
ally accounted  troublesome.  Parson  Gibbern  ha-s  preached  several  sermons  in 
opposition  to  them,  in  which  he  has  labour’d  to  convince  his  people  that  what 
they  say  are  only  whimsical  Fancies  or  at  most  Religion  grown  to  Wildness 
and  Enthusiasm!  . . . 

Of  the  married  life  of  Gawen  Corbin  and  Hannah  Lee  almost  noth- 
ing is  known.  They  had  but  one  child,  a daughter  named  Martha.  That 
the  family  lived  in  the  comfortable  manner  of  the  large  planters  of  their 
day  is  evident  from  the  Peckatone  inventories.  A "Coach  with  Harness 
for  6 Horses” — and  thirteen  "Bays”  from  v/hich  to  choose  the  six — the 
family  portraits,  harpsichord,  books,  maps,  mahogany,  the  heavy  silver 
plate  (the  "Ladle”  alone  of  the  "Silver  Punch  Bowl”  weighed  "3  pounds 
and  an  half”)  engraved  with  the  Corbin  arms — all  this  makes  an  im- 
pressive list. 

But  of  the  personal  relationship  of  husband  and  wife  there  is  no 
record. 

In  December,  1759,  Gawen  Corbin  died,  leaving  Hannah  the  mistress 
of  Peckatone.  Because  of  her  practical  turn  of  mind,  the  management 
of  a large  estate  was  no  doubt  of  great  interest  to  her.  But  it  was  also  a 
trial.  Hannah  bitterly  resented  the  heavy  taxes  laid  upon  her,  when  she 
had  no  hand  in  framing  the  laws.  She  had,  it  seemed,  all  the  responsi- 
bilities of  a rich  man  with  none  of  his  political  rights.  She  was  not, 
however,  concerned  for  herself  alone.  Her  defense  of  the  legal  rights 
of  widows  is  manifested  in  a letter  of  March  14,  1778,  to  her  sister 
Alice:  "I  have  wrote  to  my  Brother  [Richard  Henry]  & I beg  you  will 
use  your  interest  with  him  to  do  something  for  the  poor  desolate 
widows.”  Apparently  Hannah  applied  the  old  catchword  of  "taxation 
without  representation”  to  the  status  of  widows  in  the  Colony.  As 
owners  of  property,  they  had  to  pay  taxes,  but  they  not  only  had  no 
voice  in  determining  purposes  for  which  the  revenue  from  taxes  was 
to  be  used,  but  also  had  no  part  in  the  election  of  those  who  were 
charged  with  the  disbursement  of  such  funds.  It  must  have  been  a vig- 
orous letter,  for  her  brother  took  the  time  to  write  a long  reply: 

Chantilly,  March  17,  1778. 3 

My  Dear  Sister, 

Distressed  as  my  mind  is  and  has  been  by  a variety  of  attentions,  I am  illy  able 
by  letter  to  give  you  the  satisfaction  I could  wish  on  the  several  subjects  of  your 
letter.  Reasonable  as  you  are  and  friendly  to  the  freedom  and  happiness  of  your 
country,  I should  have  no  doubt  giving  you  perfect  content  in  a few  hours’ 


Vista  from  the  Great  Hall  through  the  west  wing,  looking  toward  the  old  Cliff  Road 
to  the  river. 


208 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


conversation.  You  complain  that  widows  are  not  represented,  and  that  being 
temporary  possessors  of  their  estate  ought  not  to  be  liable  to  the  tax.  The 
doctrine  of  representation  is  a large  subject,  and  it  is  certain  that  it  ought  to  be 
extended  as  far  as  wisdom  and  policy  can  allow;  nor  do  I see  that  either  of  these 
forbid  widows  having  property  from  voting,  notwithstanding  it  has  never  been 
the  practice  either  here  or  in  England.  Perhaps  ’twas  thought  rather  out  of 
character  for  women  to  press  into  those  tumultuous  assemblages  of  men  where 
the  business  of  choosing  representatives  is  conducted.  And  it  might  also  have 
been  considered  as  not  so  necessary,  seeing  that  the  representatives  themselves, 
as  their  immediate  constituents,  must  suffer  the  tax  imposed  in  exact  proportion 
as  does  all  other  property  taxed,  and  that,  therefore,  it  could  not  be  supposed 
that  taxes  would  be  laid  where  the  public  good  did  not  demand  it.  This,  then, 
is  the  widow’s  security  as  well  as  that  of  the  never  married  women,  who  have 
lands  in  their  own  right,  for  both  of  whom  I have  the  highest  respect,  and 
would  at  any  time  give  my  consent  to  establish  their  right  of  voting.  I am  per- 
suaded that  it  would  not  give  them  greater  security,  nor  alter  the  mode  of 
taxation  you  complain  of ; because  the  tax  idea  does  not  go  to  the  consideration 
of  perpetual  property,  but  is  accomodated  to  the  high  prices  given  for  the  annual 
profits.  Thus  no  more  than  l/2  per  ct.  is  laid  on  the  assessed  value,  although 
produce  sells  now  3 and  400  per  cent  above  what  it  formerly  did.  Tobacco  sold 
5 or  6 years  ago  for  15s  and  2d- -now  ’tis  50  and  55.  A very  considerable  part 
of  the  property  I hold  is,  like  yours,  temporary  for  my  life  only;  yet  I see  the 
propriety  of  paying  my  proportion  of  the  tax  laid  for  the  protection  of  property 
so  long  as  that  property  remains  in  my  possession  and  I derive  use  and  profit 
from  it.  When  we  complained  of  British  taxation  we  did  so  with  much  reason, 
and  there  is  great  difference  between  our  case  and  that  of  the  unrepresented  in 
this  country.  The  English  Parliament  nor  their  representatives  would  pay  a 
farthing  of  the  tax  they  imposed  on  us  but  quite  otherwise.  Their  property 
would  have  been  exonerated  in  exact  proportion  to  the  burthens  they  laid  on 
ours.  Oppressions,  therefore,  without  end  and  taxes  without  reason  or  public 
necessity  would  have  been  our  fate  had  we  submitted  to  British  usurpation.  For 
my  part  I had  much  rather  leave  my  children  free  than  in  possession  of  great 
nominal  wealth,  which  would  infallibly  have  been  the  case  with  all  American 
possessions  had  our  property  been  subject  to  the  arbitrary  taxation  of  a British 
Parliament.  With  respect  to  Mr.  Fauntleroy,  if  he  spoke  as  you  say,  it  is  a very 
good  reason  why  he  ought  not  to  be  assessor.  But  if  he  should  be  the  law  has 
wisely  provided  a remedy  against  the  mistakes  or  the  injustices  of  assessors 
by  giving  the  injured  party  appeal  to  the  commissioners  of  the  tax,  which  com- 
missioners are  annually  chosen  by  the  freeholders  and  housekeepers,  and  in  the 
choice  of  whom  you  have  as  legal  a right  to  vote  as  any  other  person.  I believe 
there  is  no  instance  in  our  new  government  of  any  unnecessary  placemen,  and  I 
know  the  rule  is  to  make  their  salaries  moderate  as  possible,  and  even  these 
moderate  salaries  are  to  pay  tax.  But  should  Great  Britain  gain  her  point,  where 
we  have  one  placeman  we  should  have  a thousand  and  pay  pounds  where  we  pay 
pence;  nor  should  we  dare  to  murmur  under  pain  of  military  execution.  This, 

zThe  Letters  of  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Ballagh,  Vol.  I,  pp.  392-394. 


HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


209 


with  the  other  horrid  concomitants  of  slavery,  may  well  persuade  the  American 
to  lose  blood  and  pay  taxes  also  rather  than  submit  to  them.  . . . 

Hannah  was  probably  the  first  woman  in  Virginia  concerned  in  wom- 
en’s rights,  and  it  is  possible  that  her  arguments  influenced  Richard 
Henry  Lee’s  favorable  attitude  toward  equal  suffrage. 

Gawen  Corbin’s  will  was  the  source  of  many  trials  to  Hannah.  By  its 
terms  she  would  lose  a large  part  of  the  estate  if  she  married  again: 

. .1  lend  all  my  Estate  both  real  & personal  to  my  dear  Wife  during 
her  Widowhood  & Continuance  in  this  Country  . . . and  if  my  Wife 
marries  again  or  leaves  this  Country,  then  & in  that  Case,  my  will  & 
desire  is  that  my  said  Wife  shall  be  deprived  of  the  Bequest  already 
made  her,  and  in  lieu  thereof  shall  only  have  one  third  of  my  Estate 
real  and  personal.  . . .”4 

Such  a restriction  must  have  chafed  so  independent  a person  as  Han- 
nah, and  doubtless  seemed  entirely  unjust  to  her.  From  existing  corres- 
pondence and  the  notations  of  G.  W.  Beale,  it  would  appear  that  Han- 
nah was  always  interested  and  active  in  the  business  of  the  plantation 
and  undoubtedly  had  assisted  her  husband  in  the  development  of  Pecka- 
tone  and  some  of  his  other  properties.  Now  she  must  order  her  future 
life — and  she  was  only  thirty-two — as  Gawen  Corbin  directed  or  forfeit 
two-thirds  of  the  estate  to  which  she  had  evidently  devoted  much  effort. 
Although  she  was  named  as  executor  with  her  brothers,  Richard  Henry, 
Thomas  Ludwell,  and  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee,  she  refused  to  appear  in 
court  with  them  in  this  capacity.  The  court  order  books  show  a fine 
imposed  upon  her  for  not  appearing,  one  which  she  apparently  refused 
to  pay. 

There  was  a further  complication.  One  of  the  witnesses  of  Corbin’s 
will  was  his  physician,  Richard  Lingan  Hall.  With  him  Hannah  fell 
deeply  in  love.  The  few  references  to  Doctor  Hall  by  members  of  the 
Lee  family  give  no  due  to  his  personality.  He  was  invariably  spoken  of 
with  respect,  as  an  educated  man  and  a social  equal,  the  owner  of  a small 
estate  in  Richmond  County.  It  is  obvious  that  Richard  Hall  was  a man 
of  unquestionable  integrity. 

In  the  course  of  time  Hannah  might  well  have  married  him;  but  the 
Baptist  Society  did  not  then  have  its  own  form  for  the  solemnization  of 
marriage,  using  instead  the  ritual  of  the  Church  of  England,  to  which 
Hannah  did  not  subscribe.  The  only  marriage  ceremony  then  recog- 

4Original  (mutilated)  in  Westmoreland  County  Courthouse.  Contemporary  copy  of  original 
document  furnished  the  writer  by  J.  Collins  Lee. 


210  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

nized  by  Virginia  law  was  that  of  the  Established  Church.  Cases  fre- 
quently occurred,  however,  especially  during  the  Revolution,  where  the 
marriage  ceremony  was  performed  by  dissenting  ministers,  but  they 
were  not  valid  in  law  until  the  act  of  1780. 5 There  must  have  been  many 
instances  where  members  of  the  early  Baptist  Society  conformed  to  the 
prevailing  law  covering  marriage  requirements  in  order  to  avoid  all 
questions  of  descents.  Such  records  are  not  available  to  the  writer. 

Where  Hannah  Lee  Corbin  was  concerned,  it  seems  that  on  this  point 
she  would  not  compromise.  No  contemporary  statement  clarifying  her 
position  survives — if  any  was  ever  made.  In  all  legal  and  public  docu- 
ments, even  in  the  one  referring  to  her  first  child  born  through  her  union 
with  Richard  Hall,  she  refers  to  herself  as  Hannah  Corbin,  widow.  Was 
it — with  Hannah — a question  of  property  versus  conscience?  The  exact 
reasons  are  not  known.  The  loss  of  two-thirds  of  her  husband’s  estate 
would  naturally  be  a matter  of  grave  concern  to  Hannah.  Dr.  Hall’s 
property  and  practice  were  inadequate  for  their  support,  and  ever  since 
Gawen  Corbin  died  Hannah  had  protested  vigorously  against  what  she 
evidently  felt  was  the  injustice  of  the  will. 

Whatever  her  guiding  motive,  Hannah  determined  to  dispense  with 
the  marriage  ceremony,  to  live  openly  with  Richard  Hall  in  the  house  at 
Peckatone,  and  make  no  apologies  for  it.  For  two  years  her  husband 
had  been  dead.  She  was  now  thirty-four  and  she  had  a spirited  determi- 
nation to  live  her  life  as  she  saw  fit,  without  let  or  hindrance  from  the 
body  politic  or  religious.  So  bold  a step  could  have  been  taken  only  by 
a woman  whose  courage  and  love  were  great. 

Since  a second  marriage,  if  performed  with  a Baptist  ceremony,  would 
probably  not  have  been  recognized  officially  prior  to  1780,  Hannah  may 
have  seen  no  reason  to  take  any  other  steps  during  her  lifetime  that 
would  have  deprived  her  of  most  of  her  life  interest  in  the  estate,  such 
as  giving  her  children  the  name  of  Hall  in  connection  with  transfers  of 
property  made  to  them  during  her  lifetime. 

The  fact  that  some  years  later,  when  Hannah  made  her  will,  she  gave 
the  name  Hall  to  her  son  and  her  younger  daughter  has  some  special  sig- 
nificance. For  it  may  prove  to  indicate  a probable  civil  or  Baptist  cere- 
mony which  may  never  have  been  recorded. 

Hannah’s  relationship  with  Hall  is  not  referred  to  by  members  of  her 
family  in  any  letters  that  survive.  The  devout  Alice  corresponded  fre- 


5See  Supplementary  Records : The  Baptist  Society  in  Colonial  Virginia. 


HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


211 


quently  with  Hannah,  and  the  sisters  interchanged  visits  and  were  on 
friendly  and  affectionate  terms.  The  scrupulous  Richard  Henry  men- 
tions Dr.  Hall  in  a casual  and  friendly  manner  in  his  letter  of  March  17, 
1778 — a letter  he  addresses  to  Mrs.  Hannah  Corbin  and  closes  with: 

"I  am,  My  dear  Sister, 

Most  sincerely  and  affectionately  yours.” 

The  situation  was  fully  accepted  by  the  countryside,  according  to  the 
Westmoreland  historian,  G.  W.  Beale,  who  says  in  an  article  in  The 
Baltimorean  that  during  Hannah’s  widowhood,  Peckatone  was  fre- 
quented "by  throngs  of  the  most  genial  and  enlightened  society  of  the 
time.”  He  mentions  "richly  bound  volumes  of  classical  literature”  pre- 
served in  the  library  there,  which  "were  inscribed  with  the  autographs 
of  prominent  friends  and  visitors.”  For  his  source  references  he  cites 
"Letters  and  other  data  preserved  from  the  period  of  Mrs.  Hannah  Cor- 
bin’s residence.”  He  continues:  "Seldom  has  a woman  been  left  at  her 
husband’s  decease  in  possession  of  a large  estate,  and  the  care  of  a child, 
with  more  independence  of  spirit  and  force  of  character  than  fell  to  the 
lot  of  Mrs.  Hannah  Corbin.  She  laid  a vigorous  hand  on  the  affairs  of 
her  plantation  and  took  other  business  concerns  and  directed  them  with 
practical  sagacity  and  success.” 

For  a period  of  nearly  eighteen  years — until  Richard  Hall’s  death 
— these  two  lived  as  man  and  wife.  To  their  first  child,  a son  born  in 
the  year  1763,  Hannah  gave  the  name,  Elisha — God  is  Salvation. 

On  May  29,  1764,  Hannah  made  a formal  "deed  of  gift”  to  her  son, 
publicly  recording: 

Corbin  to  Corbin — To  all  to  whom  these  present  shall  come  Be  it  known  that 
I Hannah  Corbin,  widow  of  the  parish  of  Cople  in  the  County  of  Westmore- 
land for  and  in  consideration  of  the  natural  love  and  affection  which  I have 
for  my  Well  beloved  son  Elisha  Hall  Corbin  and  for  diver  other  good  causes 
and  considerations  have  given  and  granted  and  by  these  present  do  give  and 
grant  the  negro  slaves  following  to  wit:  Phil,  Cyrus,  Ben,  Lubey,  Molly,  letty, 
Betty,  Hannah,  Nance,  Alee,  Lucey  and  Betty  together  with  their  several  in- 
crease in  manner  as  is  hereafter  set  forth  and  declared  that  is  to  say  to  my  son 
Elisha  Hall  Corbin  and  his  heirs  forever  lawfully  begotten  of  his  body  if  he 
shall  become  to  the  age  of  twenty  one  years  which  will  happen  on  the  twenty 
sixth  of  March  one  thousand  seven  hundred  and  eighty  four  and  if  it  should 
happen  that  I myself  should  depart  this  life  before  that  time  and  that  my 
said  son  should  be  living  in  that  case  I give  to  my  said  son  and  his  heirs  law- 
fully begotten  of  his  body  forever  all  and  singular  the  said  negroes  and  their 
increase  from  and  immediately  after  my  decease  but  if  it  should  happen  that 
my  said  son  should  die  under  age  then  the  said  negroes  to  be  subject  with  their 


212 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


increase  to  such  disposition  as  I shall  make  there  of  to  my  last  Will  and  testa- 
ment or  otherwise. 

In  witness  whereof  I have  hereunto  set  my  hand  and  seal  this  twenty  ninth 
day  of  May  one  thousand  seven  hundred  and  sixty  four. 

Wit: 

John  Montgomery 

Jacob  X Allison. 

At  a Court  continued  and  held  for  Westmoreland  County  the  twenty  ninth 
day  of  May  1765,  This  deed  of  Gift  was  proved  by  the  Oaths  of  John  Mont- 
gomery and  Jacob  Allison  the  witnesses  therto  and  Ordered  to  be  recorded. 

Teste — 

[Pg.  323] 

The  second  child  born  of  Hannah’s  union  with  Richard  Hall  was  a 
daughter,  to  whom  she  gave  the  same  name  as  the  daughter  of  her  mar- 
riage to  Gawen  Corbin — that  of  Martha.7 

In  March,  1772,  Richard  Hall  made  formal  record  of  a deed  of  gift 
to  his  daughter: 

March  1772 

Hall  to  Corbin — To  all  to  whom  these  Present  shall  come  Be  it  known  that  I, 
Richard  Hall  of  the  County  of  Richmond  in  the  Parish  of  North  farnham  for 
and  in  consideration  of  natural  love  and  affection  which  I have  for  my  dearly 
beloved  daughter  Martha  Corbin  youngest  Daughter  of  Mrs.  Hannah  Corbin 
of  the  said  County  and  for  diver  other  good  causes  and  considerations  have  given 
and  granted  and  by  these  Present  doth  give  and  grant  all  and  singular  the  fol- 
lowering  slaves  and  their  increase  Viz-Dinah,  and  Kate  her  child,  Winney, 
Charles  and  Harry  in  the  following  manner  that  is  to  say  to  my  said  Daughter 
and  her  heirs  for  ever  from  and  immediately  after  my  Decease  to  have  and  to 
hold  all  and  singular  the  said  slaves  and  their  Increase  unto  my  said  Daughter 
provided  she  arrives  to  the  age  of  twenty  one  years  and  to  her  heirs  forever,  I 
likewise  give  and  grant  and  by  these  Present  have  given  and  granted  one  negro 
girl  named  Molly  and  her  increase  to  my  sd.  Daughter  and  her  heirs,  from  and 
immediately  after  she  marries  or  arive  to  the  age  of  twenty  one  years  To  have 
and  to  hold  the  said  negro  girl  and  her  increase  unto  my  said  Daughter  and  her 
Heirs  forever,  provided  she  lives  to  the  age  of  Twenty  one  years  or  is  married. 

In  witness  hereunto  set  my  hand  and  seal  this  twenty  sixth  Day  of  March 
one  thousand  seven  hundred  and  seventy  two. 

Richard  Hall. 

signed  and  sealed  and  Delivered  in  the  Presence  of 

John  Garner 

Hannah  X.  Garner 

Deed  Gift — Hall  to  Corbin — 


7It  was  an  eighteenth  century  custom  in  Virginia  to  use  the  same  baptismal  name  for  chil- 
dren when  there  were  different  fathers  or  mothers.  Frequent  instances  of  this  appear  in  the 
court  records  of  Northern  Neck  counties. 


HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


213 


March  1772. 

Proved  by  Wit:  and  lodged* 

This  document  is  in  Richard  Hall’s  own  handwriting. 

Thus  did  Hannah  Lee  Corbin  and  Richard  Hail  place  in  the  public 
records  their  relations  and  name  their  children.  According  to  Gist 
Blair,  "in  no  State  like  Virginia  at  this  period  could  any  such  open  recog- 
nition of  the  birth  of  child  or  children  been  made  without  a public 
scandal,  had  such  birth  been  illicit.”  This  apparently  caused  none,  not 
even  comment.  Their  relations  were  good. 

Hannah’s  elder  daughter,  Martha,  or  Patty  Corbin,  married  her  kins- 
man, George  Richard  Turberville  (grandson  of  the  third  Richard  Lee 
of  London,  owner  of  Matholic)  in  1769,  and  Peckatone  passed  into 
her  possession  and  that  of  her  husband.  Sometime  after  the  wedding, 
Hannah  and  Richard  Hall,  with  their  children,  Elisha  and  Martha  Hall 
Corbin,  moved  to  Woodberry  Plantation  in  Richmond  County.  It  was 
here  a few  years  later  that  Richard  Lingan  Hall  died.  The  date  is  not 
recorded,  but  it  was  probably  between  1778  and  1779.  According  to 
Richmond  County  tradition,  he  was  buried  near  Farnham. 

During  the  Revolution,  in  the  late  fall  of  1777,  when  Alice  Lee  Ship- 
pen  came  as  a refugee  to  Stratford  and  Chantilly,  the  sisters  were  re- 
united after  a separation  of  eighteen  years.  Shortly  before  Alice  re- 
turned to  Philadelphia  in  1778,  Hannah  wrote  her  this  note: 

My  Dear  Sister 

I have  been  long  getting  your  Cotten  done  & I wish  it  may  please  you  now, 
for  People  are  so  engaged  at  this  time  in  their  own  families  ’tis  hard  to  perswade 
them  to  any  thing  else  I could  hire  Cyrus  here  for  fifty  pound  a year  but  as 
I think  he  is  not  worth  it  I will  ask  you  no  more  than  you  think  he  deserves  as 
for  negroe  girls  they  hire  through  the  County  at  Twenty  pound  Least  your 
Cake  should  be  all  out  I send  a few  more  for  your  Iourny  I have  wrote  to  my 
Brother  & I beg  you  will  use  your  interest  with  him  to  do  something  for  the 
poor  desolate  widows.  And  pray  for  me  my  dear  Sister  that  the  grace  I Daily 
sue  for  may  be  granted  me  for  when  I consider  what  an  unprofitable  servant  I 
have  been  I am  on  the  brink  of  despair  & give  myself  intirely  up.  It  is  a dread- 
full  thing  to  have  both  temporal  & eternal  happiness  to  fear  the  loss  of — But 
I shall  only  grieve  you  & cant  help  it,  for  my  heart  is  very  low — That  you  are 
happy  is  some  Comfort  to  your  truly  affectionate  Sister 

H Corbin9 

Accept  my  Childrens  duty 

[The  letter  is  addressed:] 

Mrs  Shippen 
at  Chantilly 


“Westmoreland  County  Original  Records  1754-77. 

9Als : Hannah  Corbin  to  her  sister,  Mrs.  Shippen — Courtesy  Lloyd  P.  Shippen. 


214 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


Another  of  Hannah’s  letters  to  Alice  is  not  dated,  but  written  later,  in 
the  fall  of  1780.  It  is  characteristic: 

My  dear  Sister 

Five  of  your  dear  Letters  I have  received  without  ever  hav[i]ng  an  opportunity 
...  to  answer  one  of  them.  The  Bonnet  & other  things  came  safe  as  did  the 
money  but  the  most  valuable  part  the  Books  I never  have  got.  You  express  a 
fear  in  your  third  Letter  that  I may  have  gone  back  after  putting  my  hand  to  the 
Plough,  but  my  Dear  Sister  I hope  so  dreadful  an  evil  will  never  happen  to  me. 
I hope  I shall  never  live  to  see  the  day  that  I dont  love  God,  for  there  can  be 
nothing  I know  befal  me  so  horrible  as  to  be  left  to  myself.  . . . And  surely 
never  poor  Mortal  had  so  much  reason  to  sing  Free  Grace  as  your  Sister, 
that  My  exalted  Redeemer  should  mercifully  snatch  me  from  the  Fire  when 
so  many  Thousands  infinitely  better  by  Nature  have  been  permitted  to  Sin 
on  till  they  have  sunk  to  endless  misery.  Glory  be  to  my  God  for  his  Par- 
doning Grace  His  redeeming  Love.  ...  I think  the  scheme  of  raising 
money  for  the  Soldiers  would  be  g[o]od  if  we  had  it  in  our  Power  to  do  it. 
But  we  are  so  heavily  Taxed  that  we  are  unable  without  selling  our  Principal 
Estate  to  find  ourselves  common  Support.  I am  thankful  that  my  Lot  is  not 
among  the  high  & the  great,  for  I know  that  the  Rich  & great  are  not  the 
favorites  of  Heaven  because  their  Riches  is  all  employed  to  gratify  their  own 
Ambition  & tho  they  profess  themselves  Christias  they  neither  obey  the  com- 
mands or  Precepts  of  the  Gospel  But  Amass  & heap  up  Riches  without  knowing 
who  shall  gather  them  Blessed  are  the  poor  in  Spirit  &c.  Such  think  little  of 
worldly  Grandeur.  I am  Sorry  Cyrus  has  turned  out  so  very  bad,  but  I know 
him  thus  far  that  if  he  did  not  want  to  come  back  he  would  never  behave  so 
ill  I dont  know  unless  you  are  kind  enough  to  get  him  brought  home  how  I 
shall  find  any  conveyance  for  all  the  traders  up  the  Bay  that  I had  any  acquaint- 
ance with  have  left  of  the  Trade  except  Mr  Crump  who  I think  may  be  in 
Partnership  with  Mr.  John  Turberville.  He  goes  frequently  to  Baltimore  I will 
speak  to  him  if  he  goes  to  Philadelphia  to  call  on  you 

You  will  do  me  a very  great  kindness  if  you  can  by  any  safe  opportunity  send 
me  the  following  Medicines,  they  are  for  the  use  of  my  own  Family  who  are 
very  sickly.  Should  they  come  to  more  money  than  Cyrus  hire  pray  send  them 
I will  contrive  the  money  to  you 
Camphor  an  Ounce 
Spirit  Lavender  Two  Ounces 
Salt  Wormwood  Two  Ounces 
Emetic  Tartar  an  Ounce 

Salt  petre  Two  pounds  for  making  the  Diaphoretick  Antimony. 

Two  pounds  of  Peruvian  Bark.  I wish  it  could  be  got  good  for  the  French 
Bark  is  very  bad  — — — 

Two  P.ds  of  Glauber  Salts  — 
a p.d  of  Ginger 
a p.d  of  Pepper 
an  ounce  of  Mace 
an  ounce  of  cloves 


HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


215 


half  a p.d  of  Cinnamon. 

If  possible  a dram  of  Musk. 

Your  poor  little  Niece  has  had  convulsion  fits  & musk — only  appeared  to  do 
her  any  service  and  ’tho  she  is  well  at  this  time  I should  be  willing  to  have  some 
by  me — 

If  my  Brother  Arthur  is  come  I hope  to  see  him  notwithstanding  1 follow  the 
despised  Gallilean- — Blessed  be  God  that  put  it  in  my  Heart  to  do  it,  to  follow 
Him  thro’  good  report  & evil  report.  My  Dear  Sister  I hope  we  shall  meet  at 
the  Right  Hand  of  Glory. 

Yr.  Affectionate  sister 

H Corbin10 

In  speaking  of  her  son  to  Alice,  Hannah  writes:  "Elisha  delights 
much  in  the  Religious  Society  but  the  Lord  has  never  yet  revealed  Him- 
self to  him.” 

According  to  Westmoreland  County  tradition,  Hannah  was  a zealous 
worker  for  the  Revolution.  That  she  was  "friendly  to  the  freedom  and 
happiness”  of  her  country  is  stated  by  her  brother,  Richard  Henry.  G. 
W.  Beale  writes  of  her:  "Scarcely  less  than  her  five  distinguished  broth- 
ers she  entered  into  the  spirit  that  fanned  the  flame  of  freedom  for  the 
colonies,  and  interested  herself  in  the  burning  questions  that  preceded 
the  Revolution.  . . . Beneath  her  womanly  form  and  garb  she  bore  a 
singularly  robust  and  masculine  spirit.”  However,  no  specific  record  of 
Hannah’s  work  in  the  American  Revolution  has  come  to  light,  but  such 
activities  would  be  entirely  in  keeping  with  her  fearless  and  independ- 
ent nature  and  her  love  of  justice. 

When  Arthur  Lee  returned  from  France  and  came  home  to  Shippen 
House,  his  sister  Hannah  was  among  the  members  of  the  family  to  give 
him  warm  welcome.  This  was  also  the  time  when,  according  to  Mar- 
quis de  Chastellux,  Lafayette  and  Vicomte  de  Noailles  joined  the 
French  diplomats  in  several  visits  and  afternoon  tea  at  Shippen  House. 
Hannah  was  doubtless  one  of  the  grave  personages  he  refers  to  as  being 
"in  the  other  room.” 

So  far  as  it  is  known,  this  was  Hannah’s  only  journey  away  from 
Virginia.  Nancy  Shippen’s  gaiety,  music,  song  and  dance,  and  devotion 

10Als : Hannah  Corbin  to  her  sister,  Mrs.  Shippen — Courtesy  Lloyd  P.  Shippen. 

Cyrus,  mentioned  in  this  letter,  was  one  of  the  negro  slaves  of  Peckatone  whom  Gawen 
Corbin  had  directed  in  his  will  to  be  sent  to  the  West  Indies  and  sold  and  the  money  applied  to 
the  paying  of  his  debts.  But  Hannah  kept  the  slave  at  Peckatone  instead  and  trained  him  to  be 
a house  servant.  When  Alice  needed  a butler  she  hired  Cyrus  from  Hannah.  An  amusing  ex- 
planation of  his  “misbehaviour”  is  given  by  one  of  the  constant  visitors  to  Shippen  House,  the 
French  diplomat,  Louis  Guillaume  Otto,  later  Comte  de  Mosloy.  M.  Otto  was  a suitor  of  Alice 
Lee’s  daughter,  Nancy  Shippen.  In  one  of  his  delightful  letters  to  Nancy,  the  Frenchman  de- 
scribed the  old  black  house  servant  during  afternoon  tea  in  the  Shippen  parlour,  as  standing  in 
the  middle  of  the  floor,  half  asleep ! As  Hannah  intimated,  Cyrus  wanted  to  return  to  Virginia. 


216 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


to  the  French  could  not  have  appealed  to  her  aunt,  whose  comments — if 
she  wrote  any — on  the  people,  customs  and  the  times,  have  not  survived. 

Hannah,  like  Alice  and  many  other  women  of  their  time,  became  a 
religious  fanatic  toward  the  end  of  her  life,  sadly  driven  by  fear  of 
hell  fire  and  remorse  for  imaginary  sins.  But,  made  of  stronger  stuff 
than  her  sister,  Hannah  did  not  fall  into  religious  melancholia. 

She  died  about  two  years  after  her  return  to  Virginia — the  year  fol- 
lowing the  surrender  at  Yorktown,  and  was  buried  in  the  same  grave 
with  Richard  Hall. 

In  her  will  Hannah  gave  Elisha  and  her  youngest  daughter,  Martha, 
"my  Baptist  Daughter,’’  their  father’s  name  for  the  first  time  in  the  pub- 
lic records. 

It  is  plain  where  her  devotion  lay.  The  will  reads: 

I Hannah  Corbin  of  the  County  of  Richmond,  living  now  at  Mrs.  Elizabeth 
McFarlane’s  in  Westmoreland — being  in  my  perfect  sences  as  I hope  this 
writing  Drawn  up  with  my  own  hand  will  testify — do  make  this  my  last  will  in 
manner  and  Form  Following — first,  I give  my  soul  to  my  God  as  into  the 
hands  of  a faithful  Creator,  Trusting  in  the  all  Sufficient  Merits  of  my  Glorious 
Redeemer  for  a Blessed  Eternity,  as  for  my  Body  I desire  it  may  be  Buried  in  a 
private  manner  in  whatever  Place  the  Lord  shall  Please  to  separate  my  Nobler 
part  from  it. 

And  first  I give  of  my  worldly  Estate  to  my  youngest  Daughter,  a Baptist, 
Martha  Hall,  the  Half  of  my  House  at  Woodberry  that  is  my  lodging  Chamber 
the  Nursery  Closet  of  each  side  the  Chimney  adjoining  to  it  and  Half  the 
garden  and  Half  the  orchard  joining  that  side  the  garden  and  the  plantation  at 
peacock  while  she  Remains  Unmarried  but  should  she  marry  before  my  Death 
then  this  Bequest  to  be  void  and  of  no  Effect. 

I give  to  my  said  Baptist  Daughter  twenty  head  of  Cattle  to  be  chose  by 
herself  Including  in  the  twenty  those  I have  already  given  her  at  my  Quarter 
Called  Jenningses  in  Westmoreland  County  and  at  my  seat  in  farnham  Rich- 
mond County  called  Woodberry  and  twenty  young  Ewes — The  hogs,  sheep, 
the  Gray  Mare  and  her  Colts  already  given  her  must  be  Delivered  to  her  by 
her  Brother  Elisha  Hall  Immediately  upon  my  decease  Unless  she  marry  before 
that  Event  takes  place  and  then  I shall  alter  this  part  by  a Codisil  or  a new  will. 

I give  to  my  said  Baptist  Daughter  Martha  Hall  all  the  Furniture  of  my 
Chamber  at  Woodberry,  Except  the  new  Bed  I made  this  Year  at  Mrs.  McFar- 
lane’s and  every  thing  in  the  Closets  and  nursery  adjoining  my  Chamber  Except 
the  silver  strainer,  porringer  ladle  five  old  Tea  spoons,  Two  large  Table  spoons 
and  the  silver  stand  of  Cruets  these  I give  to  my  son  Elisha  Hall  forever. 

I give  also  to  my  said  Baptist  Daughter  my  Chariot  and  four  Horses  that 
Run  in  it  with  the  Harness  with  the  furniture  of  the  Chamber  and  Closet  for- 
ever— Except  what  I give  to  my  son  Elisha  Hall  also  I give  my  said  Baptist 
Daughter  Martha  Hall  four  stears  and  a Cart  Hoes  and  plantation  Tools  for  her 


HANNAH  LEE:  MISTRESS  OF  PECK  ATONE 


2 17 


Negroes  to  work  with  the  Negroes  that  were  deeded  to  her  by  Doctor  Hall, 
Dinah  and  her  Daughter  Kate  and  their  Increase,  Charles,  Harry  and  Winney 
— I Mention  this  that  she  may  know  there  was  such  a deed  given  also  I give  my 
said  Baptist  Daughter  all  my  wearing  apparel  of  every  sort  and  kind  forever. 

Secondly — I give  my  only  son  Elisha  Hall  all  my  land  at  Woodberry  and  at 
peacocks  both  these  plantations  are  in  Richmond  County  and  all  my  Estate  of 
Every  Sort  and  kind  at  Jenningses  in  Westmoreland  County,  Except  what  I 
have  given  to  his  Baptist  Sister.  Upon  condition  that  he  gives  his  said  Baptist 
sister  five  Negroes  above  five  years  old  and  little  Winney  that  now  waits  on  her, 
nor  never  Molests  her  in  possession  of  the  part  of  the  House  and  Land  above 
Mentioned  while  she  remains  Single  if  he  fails  to  perform  these  two  Com- 
mands and  does  not  Deliver  her  all  that  I have  Bequeathed  her  I give  the 
whole  that  I Have  given  to  him  conditionally  to  my  said  Baptist  Daughter  for- 
ever. But  if  my  said  son  performs  the  Conditions  above  mentioned  then  I give 
him  all  my  Lands  and  Houses  in  Richmond  County  Excluding  Peacocks  after 
his  sister’s  Marriage  and  her  part  of  the  house,  garden  and  orchard  after  her 
Marriage,  Stock  horses  and  every  other  kind  of  thing  or  debt  due  to  me  in 
Westmoreland  and  Richmond  forever — 

Thirdly — I make  my  Daughter  Martha  Turberville  my  sole  Heir  to  all  that 
belongs  to  me  in  Fauquier  and  King  George  as  Witness  my  hand  and  Seal  this 
twentieth  day  of  October  1781. 

The  words  while  she  Remains  single  Interlined  before  signing  and  sealing — 

Hannah  Corbin. 

Wit: 

Robert  Willess. 

Francis  McThany. 

Mary  Pratt. 

Codisil  made  October  twentieth  1781 — 

I desire  my  son  Elisha  Hall  may  have  all  the  profits  of  my  whole  estate  the 
year  I die. 

Hannah  Corbin. 

Wit: 

Robert  Willess. 

Francis  McThany. 

Mary  Pratt. 

At  a Court  held  for  Richmond  County  the  7th  day  of  October  1782 

This  Will  presented  in  Court  by  George  Turberville  and  being  Proved  by  the 
Witnesses  thereto  was  admitted  to  Record  and  on  Motion  of  the  said  George 
Turberville  Giving  Security  Administration,  with  the  Will  annexed  is  granted 
him. 

Test — 

LeRoy  Peachy — C.R.C.11 


Richmond  County,  Virginia  Records.  Will  Book  7,  pg.  416,  Corbin  Will. 


CHAPTER  XI:  THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 

1 

A PECULIARLY  interesting  picture  of  the  family  life  at  the  Great 
House  during  the  Revolutionary  and  post-Revolutionary  periods 
. emerges  from  the  musty  and  faded  records  in  Westmoreland 
Courthouse,  as  exact  in  detail  as  if  Hogarth  had  sketched  it.  In  domi- 
nant relief  stands  the  figure  of  "the  Divine  Matilda,”  who  married 
her  second  cousin,  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee,  a few  months  after  the  sur- 
render of  Cornwallis.  During  her  brief  lifetime  everything  at  Strat- 
ford centered  about  her.  The  fugitive  records  all  point  to  this. 

Her  day  at  Stratford  was  the  day  of  romance.  In  the  love  and  union 
of  young  Harry  Lee  of  Leesylvania  and  Matilda  Lee  of  Stratford  Hall, 
set  against  the  battlefields  of  the  Carolinas  and  Yorktown,  historians 
may  find  a stirring  romance  of  the  American  Revolution. 

Matilda,  the  first  child  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  and  his  wife,  Elizabeth 
Steptoe,  was  born  at  Stratford  about  1763.  Hers  was  one  of  the  oldest 
of  the  family  names.  The  first  Matilda  in  the  Shropshire  annals  of  the 
English  Lees,  as  noted  in  the  records  of  the  College  of  Arms,  was 
Matilda,  daughter  of  Henrici  de  Erdington,  who  married  Thomas  de  la 
Lee  of  Stanton  in  the  year  1311. 

How  little  Matilda  "was  made  a cristan”  is  described  in  a letter  from 
Mrs.  Lee’s  housekeeper  to  Matilda’s  cousin  Martha  Corbin,  daughter  of 
Gawen  and  Hannah  Lee  Corbin.  This  letter,  frequently  quoted,  contains 
the  earliest  record  of  Matilda: 

To  Miss  Martha  Corbin,  Potobac.  Stratford,  September  the  27.  Dear  Miss. 
I gladly  embrace  this  opportunity  of  writing  to  you  to  put  you  in  mind  that 
there  is  such  a being  as  my  Selfe.  I did  not  think  you  two  would  have  slited 
me  so,  your  Little  cosen  matilda  was  made  a cristan  the  25  of  September 
the  godmothers  was  mrs.  Washington  miss  becy  taloe  miss  molly  Washington 
miss  Nancy  Lawson  Stod  proxse  for  miss  nelly  Lee  and  I for  mrs.  Fauquer, 
godfathers  was  col.  Taloe  mr.  Robert  Carter  mrs.  Washington  Col.  Frank  Lee, 
the  Esqr  [Squire  Richard  Lee],  mrs  Washington  and  your  ant  Lee  Dessers 
there  love  to  you  I am  your  very  humble  Servant,  Elizabeth  Jackson. 

The  ceremony  probably  took  place  in  the  Great  Hall.  Perhaps  the 
baby  wore  the  white  christening  gown,1  which  was  made  and  embroid- 
ered by  her  grandmother,  Mrs.  Thomas  Lee,  and  doubtless  worn  in  turn 
by  each  of  Matilda’s  aunts  and  uncles  when  they  were  christened. 
Certain  of  the  families  allied  with  the  Lees  for  more  than  five  genera- 
tions are  represented  in  the  names  of  Matilda’s  godparents  mentioned 
in  this  quaint  letter:  the  Washingtons  of  Bridges’  Creek  and  Bushfield, 


1The  christening  gown  is  still  preserved.  It  is  owned  by  descendants  of  the  Lees  in  Baltimore. 
[218] 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 


219 


the  Tayloes  of  Mount  Airy,  and  the  Carters  of  Nominy  Hall.  It  is  in- 
teresting that  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee,  Matilda’s  uncle  Frank,  who  some 
twelve  years  after  was  to  sign  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  was 
among  this  group,  with  Rebecca,  "becy”  Tayloe — then  a little  girl — 
whom  he  married  some  years  later. 

According  to  the  eighteenth  century  custom  for  the  daughters  of 
Virginia  planters,  Matilda  and  her  sister  Flora,  two  years  younger,  were 
educated  at  home  by  governesses  and  special  tutors.  Although  their 
aunts  Hannah  and  Alice  had  received  at  Stratford  the  same  type  of 
instruction  as  their  brothers  and  were  well  versed  in  Latin,  in  the  third 
generation  of  Stratford  daughters  the  emphasis  was  rather  upon  music, 
dancing,  and  all  "the  graces.” 

On  July  23,  1771,  when  Matilda  was  eight,  her  father  wrote  to  her 
Uncle  William  in  London: 

Mr.  Lomax  says  he  will  make  Matilda  play  and  sing  finely.  He  is  fond  of 
her  ear  and  voice  he  says  if  you  will  send  me  Santine’s  work  Abels’s  and  Cam- 
pioni’s;  and  Scarleti’s  for  the  harpsichord  he  will  always  think  on  you  when  he 
is  playing  them;  if  to  dear  to  send  all  at  once  by  degrees  he  has  a great  regard 
for  you  yet;  and  Corelli’s  music  he  wants. 

Matilda  was  obviously  her  father’s  pride  and  joy.  For  so  many  years 
Philip  Ludwell  Lee  had  lived  a bachelor  at  Stratford,  alienated  from 
his  brothers  and  sisters.  His  late  marriage  and  the  birth  of  his  first  child 
when  he  was  forty  years  old,  must  have  transformed  his  life  and  all  the 
Stratford  scene.  Matilda  was  also  her  mother’s  favorite,  so  Light-Horse 
Harry  Lee  says,  "and  the  admired  of  all  who  see  her.”2 

Matilda  and  Flora  were  inseparable  from  their  Chantilly  cousin 
"Mollie,”  the  daughter  of  their  uncle  Richard  Henry  Lee.  Another 
close  companion  was  Anne  Carter  of  Nominy  Hall,  daughter  of  Coun- 
cillor Robert  Carter.  A memento  of  the  friendship  between  the  girls 
and  of  Matilda’s  dignity  as  elder  daughter  of  the  house  survives  in  the 
inscription  written  with  a diamond  on  a pane  of  glass  which  was  found 
in  a bookcase  door  in  the  Great  Hall  at  Stratford: 

Miss  Anne  Carter 
Miss  Lee 

Miss  Mollie  Lee  Chantilly. 

In  Book  6,  Inventories  and  Accounts  of  the  Westmoreland  Count)' 
Records,  describing  "The  Estate  of  Honble  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  Esq,  in 
Acct  with  the  Administrator”  many  of  Matilda’s  personal  and  indi- 

2Excerpt  from  original  unpublished  letter  from  Harry  Lee  to  Mrs.  Fendall.  Photostat  col- 
lection of  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation. 


220  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

vidual  belongings  are  set  forth.  Here  are  her  harpsichord,  her  side- 
saddle, her  chest  of  drawers,  her  cap,  her  silk  shoes  and  silver  buckles, 
her  Ribbands,  locket,  gloves,  mitts,  even  her  stays.  Here  too  are  her 
sett  of  Knitting  needles,  her  copybook,  and  Rheams  or  quires  of  paper. 
Packets  of  lawn,  Callicoe,  Gause,  Irish  Linnen,  Figured  Musling  and 
stript  silk  from  Philadelphia  are  delivered  at  Stratford  Landing  by- 
sea-captains.  Stratford’s  dancing  master,  Mr.  Christian,  is  listed,  the 
tutresses  and  tutors  named.  Dr.  Fendall  is  given  ninety  pounds  of  to- 
bacco "for  cleaning  & drawing  Mis  Matilda’s  teeth”;  John  Stadler  is 
paid  3,043  pounds  of  tobacco  for  teaching  Miss  Matilda  the  harpsi- 
chord. The  cost  of  her  side  saddle  is  1,200  pounds  of  tobacco. 

Echoes  of  the  great  war  are  sounded  in  frequent  allusions  to  "raising 
a soldier”  and  "recruiting  a soldier.”  Matilda’s  uncles  and  a number 
of  her  cousins,  including  young  Captain  Harry  (called  Legion  Harry  or 
Light-Horse  Harry  Lee),  were  of  course  in  the  thick  of  the  fighting,  in 
council  room  or  on  battlefield.  But  at  Stratford  all  was  quiet,  save  for 
the  one  engagement  at  the  Landing  near  the  end  of  the  war,  when  Ma- 
tilda’s uncle,  Richard  Henry  Lee,  led  the  county  militia  to  drive  the  crew 
of  a British  warship  from  Virginia  soil. 

When  Matilda’s  father  died  suddenly  at  Stratford,  February  21,  1775, 
the  ownership  of  the  estate  passed  by  provision  of  Thomas  Lee’s  will 
"to  the  first  male  heir.”  This  was  the  second  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  "Master 
Phil,”  Matilda’s  baby  brother,  who  was  born  at  the  very  moment  his 
father’s  coffin  was  being  lowered  into  the  grave. 

The  management  of  the  estate,  then  comprising  about  seven  thousand 
acres,  devolved  upon  Elizabeth  Steptoe  Lee,  widow  of  Philip.  For 
several  years  the  family  comprised  Mrs.  Lee,  her  three  children,  Ma- 
tilda, Flora,  and  "Master  Phil,”  their  governesses,  Miss  Panthon  and 
Mrs.  Richards,  their  tutor,  Mr.  Williams,  a large  number  of  white  in- 
dentured servants  and  slaves.  During  the  fall  of  1777  and  the  early 
winter  of  1778  Matilda’s  Aunt  Alice  Lee  Shippen  of  Philadelphia  was 
again  a member  of  the  Stratford  household. 

The  sole  references  to  little  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  the  third  owner  of 
Stratford,  appear  in  the  letter  from  Henry  Lee  to  his  cousin  William 
announcing  the  baby’s  birth  in  February,  1775,  and  in  the  following 
two  entries  in  the  inventories: 

"To  Doct.  Travas  for  Medicines  & Attendance  on  Master  Phil,  in 
1776.” 

"1778— To  Ditto  Cash  for  Master  Phil.” 


The  playground  of  Matilda  and  Flora. 


222  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

The  child  met  a tragic  death;  he  fell  from  the  top  of  the  high  stone 
steps  of  the  south  entrance  and  was  instantly  killed.3  The  exact  date  is  not 
recorded;  but  it  must  have  been  between  1779  and  1780,  for  Philip’s 
name  does  not  appear  after  1778  in  any  of  the  family  or  court  records, 
and  his  mother  succeeded  to  the  ownership  of  the  Stratford  estate  in 

1780. 

With  the  death  of  the  one  male  heir  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  momen- 
tous changes  took  place  in  connection  with  the  ownership  of  the  Strat- 
ford estate.  Elizabeth  Steptoe  Lee  married  Philip  Richard  Fendall  of 
Maryland,  later  of  Alexandria,  Virginia;  but  she  apparently  continued 
to  live  at  Stratford  for  several  years  after  her  marriage. 

Records  of  the  allotment  of  the  Great  House  to  Mrs.  Fendall  in  1780 
are  contained  in  the  following  excerpts  from  the  Title  to  Stratford  com- 
piled by  Lucy  Browne  Beale: 

February  29,  1780 — In  Obedience  to  an  ORDER  OF  COURT — We  allot  to 
Mrs.  Fendall  the  Mansion  House  and  offices  thereunto  belonging  together  with 
18  hundred  Acres  of  land  next  adjoining  thereto  (and  hereafter  described)  in 
full  of  her  DOWER  in  the  said  Lands— The  Mills  are  Excepted  from  this 
division  and  remain  to  the  Estate  in  Common  one-third  to  the  Dower  and 
two-thirds  to  the  remaining  part  of  the  Estate. 

The  Land  which  we  annex  to  the  Buildings  and  which  we  compute  will 
compose  Mrs.  Fendall’s  Dower  are  the  Tract  called  Motts  containing  450  Acres, 
the  Tract  purchased  of  Catesby  Cock  containing  688  Acres  and  part  of  the 
Tract  called  the  Lower  Clifts — 662  Acres. 

This  Division  and  allotment  of  the  Estate  of  the  Hon.  Philip  Ludwell  Lee, 
dec’d  being  returned  is  ordered  to  be  recorded  April  30,  17829 

The  "Lands  of  Stratford’’  in  February,  1780,  included  the  Clifts  and 
Hallows  Marsh.  They  were  divided  between  Elizabeth  Steptoe  Fendall, 
the  widow  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  and  her  two  daughters,  Matilda  and 
Flora  Lee.  Mrs.  Fendall  held  a dower  interest  in  the  estate  until  the  year 
of  her  death  in  1789- 

Another  item  in  the  Westmoreland  Records  states:  "On  January  30, 

1781,  'Matilda  Lee  orphan  of  the  Honble  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  dec’d, 
made  choice  of  Richard  Henry  Lee  for  her  Guardian,  wherupon  he 
together  with  Richd.  Lee  his  Security  entered  into  Bond  &c.’  ”5  Over  a 
period  of  several  years  Richard  Henry  Lee  represented  his  nieces,  Ma- 
tilda and  Flora,  in  the  various  legal  procedures  in  connection  with  the 
partition  of  the  Stratford  estate  of  which  they  were  co-heiresses. 


3Statement  to  writer  by  Mrs.  Mildred  Lee  Francis. 

’Inventories  & Accounts  Book  6,  p.  179:  Virginia  Westmoreland  County  Records. 
EVirginia  Westmoreland  County  Records  Court  Orders,  1776-1786.  Pg.  105. 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES  223 

Some  of  the  expenses  of  their  life  at  Stratford  are  detailed  in  the 
following  inventory: 

£337,  sl3,  d8 4562 V2  Crop  Tobo. 

1781— 

By  Board  of  the  two  Young  Ladies  & their  Tutress  the  1st  Jan.  1780  to  1st 


Jany.  1781,  Viz — 

For  Matilda — 5,000,  Flora — 1,500,  Mrs.  Richards — 1,800.  . .8,300  lbs.  of  Tob. 
By  Tax  for  a Lot  in  Leeds  for  Soldiers  Cloaths  etc. 

Paid  Jno.  Washington £ 120  0 0 

By  Cash  paid  for  2 yds.  Irish  Linnen  for  Miss  Flora 120  0 0 

By  1 pc.  fine  Chintz. — 1,500  lbs.  & Pocket  Money  for  Mis  Ma- 
tilda   30  0 0 


By  2V2  yds.  Figured  Musling  for  Mis  Matilda — 750  lbs.  of  Tob. 

1782,  Jan.  1st — 

By  1 year  board  of  Mis  Matilda  5,000  lbs.  of  Tob. 

By  1 yr.  board  for  Miss  Flora — 1,800  lbs.  Tob. 

1 yr.  board  for  Mrs.  Richards — 2,160  lbs.  Tob. 

By  pd.  Doctor  Tompson  for  24  yds.  Irish  Linnen  for  Miss 
Matilda  720  lbs.  Tob. 

April  8th,  1782— 

By  pd.  Dr.  Brown  for  Medecines 3 4 6 

By  3 hhds.  of  Leeds  old  Tobo.  to  Colo.  Richd.  Henry  Lee  to 
purchase  necessaries  for  Mis  Matilda — . .3,190  lbs.  Tob.6 

Just  why  so  many  more  pounds  of  tobacco  went  for  "Mis  Matilda’s” 
board,  goods,  necessaries  and  "Pocket  money”  than  ever  were  allotted 
to  Flora  is  not  clear. 

Like  most  of  her  contemporaries,  Matilda  had  probably  become  a 
"young  lady”  by  the  time  she  was  fifteen.  As  the  daughter  of  a mem- 
ber of  the  King’s  Council  and  a Lee  of  Stratford,  she  had  high  place  in 
Westmoreland.  With  her  sister  Flora,  she  was,  according  to  G.  W. 
Beale,  one  of  the  noted  belles  of  the  county.  Notwithstanding  the 
progress  of  the  war,  there  continued  to  be  at  Stratford  much  social 
gaiety,  visitors,  dinners,  dances. 

The  balcony  on  the  roof  was  used  on  moonlight  nights  for  a prome- 
nade during  the  dances  in  the  Great  Hall.  Carter  Lee  says: 

. . . when  I was  a boy,  the  chimneys  of  the  house  were  the  columns  of  two 
summer-houses,  between  which  there  was  a balustrade;  and  in  Col.  Philip  Lee’s 
time,  during  the  evening  promenade  of  ladies  and  gentlemen,  a band  of  music 
played  the  while  in  one  of  the  summer-houses.  Col.  Philip  also  kept  a barge, 
in  which  the  family  enjoyed  the  music  of  his  band  upon  the  water.7 

"Westmoreland  County,  Virginia  Records  Inventories  & Accts.  Book  Sixth,  page  187. 

7 Genealogical  History  of  the  Lee  Family  of  Virginia  and  Maryland  from  A.D.  1300  to  A.D. 
1866.  With  notes  and  illustrations;  edited  by  Edward  C.  Mead.  New  York,  Richardson  and 
Company,  1868. 


The  old  beeches  at  Stratford. 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 


225 


A note  on  Matilda’s  appearance  is  given  by  Alice  Lee’s  husband,  Dr. 
William  Shippen,  in  one  of  his  letters  to  his  son  Tom,  Matilda’s  cousin. 
He  repeats  an  observation  that  Matilda  was  "very  like  what  your 
Mamma  was.’’  And  Alice  Lee  had  been  described  by  one  of  her  daugh- 
ter’s suitors  as  expressing  "upon  all  her  features  that  heavenly  mild- 
ness which  is  the  Characteristick  of  her  Soul.’’  Such  an  enthusiastic 
comment,  together  with  the  beauty  which  Carter  Lee  says  his  father, 
Light-Horse  Harry,  ascribed  to  Matilda,  doubtless  contributed  to  her 
designation  in  the  Westmoreland  annals  as  "the  Divine  Matilda.’’  G. 
W.  Beale  records  the  delightful  name  given  to  Matilda  in  the  old  tales 
of  the  county.  It  was  a customary  eighteenth  century  fancy  in  Virginia 
and  Maryland  to  add  a touch  of  glamour  to  its  celebrated  women.  Mary, 
the  mother  of  Washington,  was  traditionally  "The  Rose  of  Epping 
Forest”;  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee’s  mother,  Lucy  Grymes,  was  "The  Low- 
land Beauty,”  and  Ann  Rousby  Plater  of  Sotterly,  "The  White  Rose  of 
Maryland.” 

Matilda  evidently  had  the  poise,  sprightly  humor,  and  sophistication 
characteristic  of  many  Virginia  girls,  accustomed  as  they  were  from 
their  early  teens  to  "social  elegancies”  and  the  admiration  and  court  of 
men.  The  few  original  expressions  of  hers  which  have  survived  and 
will  be  quoted  here  not  only  indicate  this  but  also  show  that  for  a girl  of 
the  late  eighteenth  century  Matilda  Lee  was  no  sentimentalist,  but  a dis- 
tinctly modern  personage,  and  a woman  of  the  world  despite  her  youth. 
She  knew  well  how  to  command  her  suitors  and  her  beaux  and  to  evoke 
the  profound  adoration  of  the  man  she  came  to  love — young,  impetu- 
ous, and  brilliant  Harry  Lee. 

He  had  known  her  since  she  was  the  baby  of  the  house,  seven  years 
younger  than  he.  During  his  visits  to  his  father’s  early  home  in  West- 
moreland, Lee  Hall,  he  no  doubt  called  frequently  on  his  other  Lee  rela- 
tions at  Stratford  and  Chantilly.  As  he  passed  to  the  southward  in  the 
late  fall  of  1780,  with  his  newly  formed  Partisan  Legion,  he  may  have 
seen  Matilda,  no  longer  a pretty  little  cousin,  but  a young  lady  of  seven- 
teen— a reigning  belle — moving  in  a society  gay  in  spite  of  the  war. 
Perhaps  his  subsequent  valor  in  battle  drew  source  and  color  not  only 
from  his  passion  for  the  cause  of  liberty  and  for  military  glory  but  also 
from  his  love  for  Matilda.  He  must  have  gone  directly  to  see  her  from 
Yorktown  in  October,  1781,  after  the  surrender  of  the  British,  though 
no  record  tells  it,  and  arranged  that  their  marriage  should  take  place  the 
following  April.  He  was  obliged  to  hasten  back  to  the  Carolinas,  and  it 


226  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

was  early  in  the  spring  of  the  new  year  before  he  returned  to  Stratford. 

In  April  Legion  Harry,  sun-burned,  wind-tanned,  brown  as  an  Indian, 
so  Carter  Lee  says,  came  to  Stratford  to  marry  Matilda.  Attending  him 
was  his  military  servant,  George  Welden,  an  Englishman  and  one  of 
Colonel  Harry’s  faithful  troopers,  who  worshipped  the  very  ground  his 
colonel  trod.  Matilda  and  Flora  stood  on  the  housetop  balcony  of  the 
Great  House  to  see  their  young  kinsman  come  riding  from  the  field  of 
war.  As  he  rode  past  the  grove  of  maples,  they  recognized  him  and 
welcomed  him  with  joy.  The  colonel’s  orderly  who  came  with  him  that 
day  never  left  the  place  thereafter.  In  Carter  Lee’s  original  unpublished 
manuscript  he  says  of  Welden: 

But  if  he  aided  his  Colonel  no  more  in  the  battles  of  Mars,  than  in  those  of 
Venus,  to  engage  in  which,  this  "Squire  so  gay”  had  attended  him  to  Stratford, 
his  efforts  were  very  maladroit.  I remember  hearing  my  father  tell  an  anecdote 
of  him,  which  he  got  from  his  beautiful  Matilda,  after  she  had  become  his 
wife,  which  will  prove  what  I say.  Welden,  she  said,  was  very  fond  of  seeking 
occasions  to  say  a good  word  for  his  hero,  & at  the  end  of  one  of  his  eulogies 
she  remarked,  that  his  Colonel’s  beauty  was  very  much  spoiled  by  his  com- 
plexion, which  was  almost  as  brown  as  an  Indian’s.  Ah,  he  replied,  that  is 
only  where  the  hot  sun  of  Carolina  could  burn  him,  but  if  you  could  see  under 
his  clothes,  you  find  his  skin  is  as  fair  as  a lily.  And  how,  replied  the  lady,  do 
you  know  that?  "O,  Miss,  because  I have  seen  it  so  often  while  ’nointing  him 
for  the  itch! ! !” 

Matilda,  it  is  plain,  had  the  Steptoe  sense  of  humor.  She  took  her 
lover  as  he  was.  No  doubt  she  tempered  his  boyish  egotism  and  ex- 
travagance, his  natural  tendency  for  "showing  off,’’  and  laughed  him 
out  of  any  sulking  to  which  he  may  have  been  inclined. 

The  exact  date  of  the  wedding  is  not  known.  That  it  was  in  April, 
1782,  is  evident,  however,  from  certain  of  the  inventory  and  court  order 
entries  which  show  that  Matilda  was  "Mis  Matilda  Lee”  on  April  8, 
1782,  and  "Mrs.  Henry  Lee”  by  April  thirtieth. 

2 

Like  his  cousins  of  Stratford  and  Chantilly,  Harry  Lee  was  born  and 
bred  on  the  Potomac.  His  birthplace,  Freestone  Point,  Leesylvania  Plan- 
tation, Prince  William  County,  was  some  seventy  miles  upstream  from 
Stratford  Landing.  When  his  parents,  Henry  and  Lucy  Grymes  Lee, 
settled  there  just  after  their  marriage  in  1753,  Leesylvania  was  a tract 
of  wild  land,  thickly  wooded,  not  far  from  Colonel  John  Tayloe’s  sur- 
face iron  mine  and  furnace.  It  was  about  three  miles  above  the  county 
seat,  Dumfries,  the  tobacco  shipping  port  and  mercantile  center  of  that 
region.  The  little  city  of  Alexandria  was  a few  miles  to  the  north. 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 


227 


Prince  William  was  formed  in  1739  from  the  counties  of  Stafford 
and  King  George.  Many  of  the  early  settlers  of  Tidewater  patented 
lands  in  this  section  where  their  sons  or  grandsons  settled.  Lees,  Har- 
risons, Masons,  Eskridges,  Carters,  Tayloes,  McCartys,  Fitzhughs, 
Brents,  Washingtons,  and  Turbervilles  were  among  the  families  estab- 
lished here  in  or  before  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century.  Practically 
all  were  related  through  intermarriages  of  several  generations. 

Dumfries,  like  Falmouth  on  the  Rappahannock,  was  founded  by  a 
group  of  prosperous  Glasgow  merchants.  It  afforded  a market  for  the 
tobacco  grown  on  the  newly  established  plantations  of  the  county,  in- 
cluding Leesylvania.  Numerous  roads  were  built,  and  tobacco  was 
brought  by  wagon  and  ox-team  and  by  boat  to  Dumfries,  where  it  was 
loaded  on  the  sea-going  vessels.8 

The  ancestral  homes  of  the  Virginia  Lees  were  in  Gloucester,  Nor- 
thumberland, and  Westmoreland  Counties.  Harry  Lee’s  grandfather  was 
Henry,  "Dragoon  Harry,’’  Thomas  Lee’s  favorite  brother,  who  leased 
with  him  the  old  Matholic  plantation  and  built  Lee  Hall  on  the  adjoin- 
ing plantation  after  his  marriage  to  Mary  Bland.  Their  son,  the  second 
Henry,  was  born  at  Lee  Hall  in  1729  and  lived  in  Westmoreland  until 
1753.  At  Stratford  he  was  a familiar  and  beloved  figure.  He  married 
Lucy  Grymes  of  Morattico,  in  the  neighboring  county  of  Richmond, 
daughter  of  Charles  Grymes  and  Frances  Jenings.  The  Charles  Grymes 
family  was  connected  with  the  Ludwells  of  Green  Spring,  through  the 
marriage  of  Lucy’s  sister,  Frances,  to  the  third  Philip  Ludwell.  When 
Lucy,  "The  Lowland  Beauty,”  became  the  wife  of  Henry  Lee,  a closer 
alliance  was  formed  with  the  families  Ludwell,  Harrison,  Jenings,  and 
Grymes.  Lucy  was  very  fair.  Her  eyes  were  blue  and  her  hair  excep- 
tionally blonde,  soft  and  light  as  a baby’s.9  According  to  local  tradition, 
she  was  one  of  the  Virginia  beauties  adored  by  Washington  in  his  early 
youth.  To  her  legend  also  ascribes  his  schoolboy  verses,  and  many  have 
surmised  that  when  in  after  years  Washington  so  favored  her  son,  it  was 
because  of  his  tender  memories  of  the  boy’s  mother. 

Lucy’s  wedding  to  Henry  Lee  took  place  in  her  sister’s  home,  the  old 
Castle  at  Green  Spring,  December  1,  1753,  where  a little  over  thirty 
years  before  Thomas  Lee  and  Hannah  Ludwell  had  been  married  and 
where  William  Lee  was  to  spend  the  last  years  of  his  life. 

8In  Landmarks  of  Old  Prince  William,  an  interesting  account  is  given  of  this  Virginia  town, 
which  was  a part  of  Harry  Lee’s  boyhood. 

“A  lock  of  Lucy  Grymes’  beautiful  hair  was  preserved  by  her  descendant,  Elizabeth  Collins 
Lee,  and  is  now  in  the  possession  of  J.  Collins  Lee. 


228  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

The  Prince  William  forest  lands  bordering  the  Potomac,  where  Henry 
and  Lucy  Lee  established  their  home,  were  bequeathed  to  Lee  by  his 
father,  August  21,  1747,  together  with  another  tract  of  thirty-five  hun- 
dred acres  in  the  adjoining  county  of  Fairfax,  and  some  twenty  slaves. 
"Neapsico,”  Point  of  Rocks,  was  the  Indian  name  of  the  site  of  their 
home.  In  the  Lee  family  it  became  Freestone  Point,  or  simply  Freestone, 
and  its  surrounding  forest  lands  were  called  Leesylvania. 

It  was  a comparatively  high,  rocky  point  of  land  jutting  out  into  the 
Potomac  River,  and  commanding  a view  far  down  stream.  The  Lee 
homestead,  built  of  red  brick,  was  two  and  a half  stories  high  with  huge 
chimneys  on  each  side.  Two-story  porches  or  porticoes  were  on  the 
front  and  rear  entrances.  A succession  of  terraces  descended  to  the 
water.  By  comparison  with  Stratford  and  other  great  houses  of  the 
Northern  Neck  and  the  James  River  region,  Freestone  was  small  and 
simple,  a comfortable  farm  house  rather  than  a mansion.  Today  only 
the  foundation  and  chimneys  remain,  overgrown  with  weeds  and  vines. 

Earnest  discussion  of  county,  colony,  and  world  events  took  place 
in  this  Leesylvania  homestead.  From  the  year  Henry  Lee  settled  in 
Prince  William,  he  was  identified  with  community  affairs.  He  served 
as  county  lieutenant,  justice  of  the  peace,  Burgess,  and  member  of  the 
Revolutionary  Conventions.  He  was  also  associated  for  a brief  space 
with  the  negotiation  of  treaties  with  the  Indians.  "Although  possessing 
no  dominant  qualities  of  leadership,”  Douglas  Southall  Freeman  says, 
"he  was  heart  and  hand  in  the  Revolutionary  causes.”  And  Dr.  Free- 
man quotes  his  letter  to  his  cousin  William,  March  1,  1775,  "We  are 
determined  on  preserving  our  libertys  if  necessary  at  the  Expense  of  our 
Blood,  being  resolved  not  to  survive  Slavery.”10  Henry  Lee  was  an  ex- 
pert horseman,  a connoisseur  and  lover  of  horses.  "System,  thrift,  and 
love  of  horses  were  three  characteristics  of  Henry  Lee  the  second,”  ob- 
serves Dr.  Freeman.  The  stables  at  Leesylvania  included  several  horses 
known  in  the  turf  annals  of  the  time:  Diamond,  Roan,  Gimrack,  Ranter, 
Flimack,  and  the  bay  mare  Famous. 

The  first  child  of  Henry  and  Lucy  Grymes  Lee  was  a daughter  who 
died  in  infancy.  Harry,  the  first  of  their  five  sons,  was  born  January  29, 
1756.  He  had  his  mother’s  blue  eyes,  light  hair,  and  fair  skin.  The  boy’s 
earliest  memories  must  have  been  of  river  and  plantation  life  and  the 
Leesylvania  stables  where  at  an  early  age  he  had  his  own  string  of  mares 
and  colts. 


10 R.  E.  Lee,  I,  162. 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES  229 

The  Leesylvania  family  eventually  comprised  eight  children:  Henry, 
Charles,  Richard  Bland,  Theodorick,  Edmund  Jennings,  Lucy,  Mary, 
and  Anne.  There  was  never  a Leesylvania  line  of  Lees  in  a genealogical 
sense.  Only  one  generation  was  represented  here  as  against  five  genera- 
tions at  Stratford,  for  after  the  deaths  of  Henry  and  Lucy  their  children 
lived  elsewhere.  Lreestone  Point  passed  into  the  hands  of  another 
family,  and  Leesylvania  became  only  a remembered  name. 

Although  the  elder  Henry  Lee  was  not  known  as  a scholar,  he  evi- 
dently made  a discriminating  selection  of  tutors  and  exercised  a careful 
supervision  of  his  sons’  education  at  home.  The  tutors  of  the  period  were 
invariably  learned  young  Scotchmen  who  must  have  put  their  young 
charges  to  arduous  tasks.  At  the  early  age  of  thirteen  Harry  entered  the 
College  of  New  Jersey,  later  Princeton  University.  At  the  same  time 
arrangements  were  made  for  his  brother  Charles,  nearly  two  years 
younger,  to  be  placed  in  the  grammar  school  at  Princeton. 

Their  father’s  choice  of  the  college  for  his  sons’  education  undoubt- 
edly came  about  through  the  influence  of  the  Shippens  of  Pennsylvania, 
who  were  among  its  founders.  Henry  Lee’s  former  ward,  Alice  Lee,  and 
her  husband,  Dr.  William  Shippen,  in  Philadelphia,  could  readily  keep 
in  touch  with  the  two  Lee  boys.  Lurthermore,  the  president  of  the  col- 
lege, Dr.  John  Witherspoon,  was  one  of  the  intimates  of  the  Shippen 
household,  and  his  political  views  coincided  with  those  of  Henry  Lee. 
Accordingly,  his  sons’  principles  would  be  preserved,  and  their  develop- 
ment properly  directed  by  so  liberal  and  courageous  a man  as  President 
Witherspoon.  "Prom  a character  such  as  Witherspoon,”  says  Burton 
Hendrick,  "and  from  studies  such  as  prevailed  at  Princeton,  Henry  Lee 
was  the  kind  of  youngster  to  profit.”11 

Apparently  the  Lee  boys  completely  satisfied  the  exacting  president. 
When  he  wrote  to  their  father  enclosing  the  bills  for  board  and  tuition, 
he  said: 

"I  have  nothing  to  add  to  what  I writ  formerly  of  the  behavior  of 
your  sons,  and  their  progress  in  their  learning,  it  has  always  been  in  all 
respects  agreeable.” 

During  the  boys’  freshman  year  Dr.  Shippen  visited  them  at  Prince- 
ton and  wrote  to  Richard  Henry  Lee: 

Philad’a,  25th  Aug.,  1770. 

We  are  much  disappointed  in  not  seeing  you  here  with  your  son  or  sons  on 
your  way  to  Dr.  Witherspoon.  Your  Sister  will  be  very  happy  when  that  time 
comes  and  prays  it  may  be  very  soon.  I am  persuaded  there  is  not  such  a school 


llTlie  Lees  of  Virginia,  by  Burton  Hendrick,  p.  3 33. 


230  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

on  the  Continent.  Your  cousin  Henry  Lee  is  in  College  and  will  be  one  of  the 
first  fellows  in  this  country.  He  is  more  than  strict  in  his  morality;  he  has  a 
hne  genius  and  is  too  diligent.  Charles  is  in  the  grammar  School  and  the  Dr. 
expects  much  from  his  genius  and  application  too.  If  you  will  be  here  by  the 
24th  of  September  I will  escort  you  to  the  Commencement  at  Princeton,  which 
will  be  on  the  25th. 

A number  of  Lee’s  classmates  were  to  have  with  him  future  careers  of 
interest  in  American  history.  Among  them  were  James  Madison,  Brock- 
hoist  Livingston,  Philip  Freneau,  Philip  Vickers  Fithian,  H.  H.  Brack- 
enridge,  and  Aaron  Burr. 

Every  available  record  offers  evidence  that  young  Lee  had  an  eager 
and  imaginative  mind,  that  he  was  sensitive,  emotional,  and  impulsive, 
that  he  was  hungry  for  knowledge  and  indefatigable  in  acquiring  it. 
He  was  a true  descendant  of  "Richard  the  Scholar,”  as  his  great-grand- 
father, the  second  Richard  Lee,  was  called  in  the  family. 

Although  he  studied  mathematics  in  his  senior  year,  there  is  no  indi- 
cation that  he  was  intimately  interested  in  it  or  was  concerned  with 
practical  business  methods  or  money  affairs.  His  chief  interest  lay  in 
the  classics.  The  characters  and  the  victories  of  Philip  of  Macedon, 
Alexander,  Caesar,  and  Hannibal  filled  his  mind  with  dreams  of  equal- 
ling their  fame:  "What  breast  is  so  callous  to  noble  feelings,”  he  said, 
"as  not  to  pant  to  be  called  their  rivals?”12  Under  the  influence  of  sym- 
pathetic masters  this  boyish  dreaming  ripened  into  a mature  appreciation 
of  the  style  and  the  philosophy  of  the  Greek  and  Latin  poets.  Through- 
out his  life,  Sophocles  was  to  him  meat  and  bread  and  wine.  He  would 
quote  word  for  word  and  line  for  line  from  the  poets  and  philosophers 
he  loved. 

Years  later,  in  letters  to  his  wife  and  son,  he  wrote  of  his  interest  in 
the  Greek  and  Latin  poets  and  historians  during  his  college  days.  The 
delight  which  they  stirred  in  him  was  practically  his  only  solace  during 
his  last  years  of  exile  and  suffering.  In  an  unpublished  letter  to  his  wife, 
September  3,  1813,  in  Lee’s  fifty-seventh  year,  are  these  lines:13 

To  read  Homer  & Demosthenes  in  their  own  language  with  entire  knowledge 
of  their  stile  & meaning,  is  worthy  of  the  most  elevated  mind  & to  accomplish 
the  object  demonstrate^]  the  possession  of  a mind  both  elevated  & erudite. 
I am  sure  that  the  time  I devoted  when  a youth  to  the  greek  language  & to  these 
authors  was  the  best  spent  period  of  my  academic  life  so  far  as  I can  judge 
from  the  past — Do  enamour  my  son  with  the  laudable  ambition  of  outstripping 
his  father  in  his  favorite  classical  acquirement  & tell  him  how  I shall  be  grati- 

"Letter  from  Henry  Lee  to  Carter  Lee,  May  3,  1817,  in  Lee  of  Virginia,  p.  354. 

"Original  Lee  Letters  and  Documents : Photostat  collection  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foun- 
dation, Inc. 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 


231 


fied  if  I should  ever  find  him  capable  of  reading  over  these  superior  Greeks  to 
his  aged  father. 

At  Princeton,  too,  was  fostered  the  passion  for  Liberty  which  deter- 
mined to  so  great  an  extent  the  course  of  his  later  life.  President  Wither- 
spoon imbued  Princeton  students  with  much  of  his  own  feeling.  Liberty 
was  not  an  abstract  word  to  them.  It  was  an  altar  before  which  those 
early  students  of  old  Nassau  knelt  in  worship. 

The  curriculum  of  Harry  Lee’s  senior  year  included  a course  in  moral 
philosophy  under  Doctor  Witherspoon,  with  lectures  on  typesof  govern- 
ment, jurisprudence,  ethics,  and  politics.  Here  was  the  language  familiar 
in  the  Lee  family,  at  Stratford,  Chantilly,  Bellevue,  Menokin,  and  Free- 
stone Point.  It  was  the  language  that  had  been  spoken  in  Jamestown 
and  in  Williamsburg.  Harry  Lee  had  been  brought  up  on  it,  as  his  fathers 
had  been  before  him.  But  hearing  his  masters  extol  Liberty  and  his 
friends  discuss  it  hotly  must  have  tended  to  intensify  his  own  thought 
and  feeling.  When  he  returned  to  Virginia  in  1773,  he  bore  with  him, 
besides  his  sheepskin  and  his  prize  for  translating  English  into  Latin,  a 
passionate  conviction  that  the  liberties  of  mankind  were  rights  sacred 
and  inviolable.  And  he  would  live  for  them,  and  if  need  be,  die  for 
them. 

All  over  Virginia  was  the  leaven  of  Liberty  at  work.  In  the  neighbor- 
ing county  of  Fairfax,  men  met  and  drew  up  the  Fairfax  Resolves: 

At  a Meeting  of  a Number  of  Gentlemen  & Freeholders  of  Fairfax  County 
in  the  Colony  of  Virginia  on  Wednesday  the  2 1 ;st  Day  of  September  1774, 
George  Mason  Esqr.  in  the  Chair,  the  following  Association  was  formed  & 
entered  into. 

In  this  Time  of  extreme  Danger,  with  the  Indian  Enemy  in  our  Country,  and 
threat’ ned  with  the  Destruction  of  our  Civil-rights,  & Liberty,  and  all  that  is 
dear  to  British  Subjects  & Freemen;  We  the  Subscribers,  taking  into  our  serious 
Consideration  the  present  alarming — Situation  of  all  the  British  Colonies  upon 
this  Continent,  as  well  as  our  own,  being  sensible  of  the  Expediency  of  putting 
the  Militia  of  this  Colony  upon  a more  respectable  Footing,  & hoping  to  excite 
others  by  our  Example,  have  voluntarily  freely  & cordially  entered  into  the 
following  Association;  which  We,  each  of  Us  for  ourselves  respectively, 
solemnly  promise,  & pledge  our  Honours  to  each  other,  and  to  our  Country  to 
perform. 

That  We  will  form  ourselves  into  a Company,  not  exceeding  one  hundred 
Men,  by  the  Name  of  The  Fairfax  independent  Company  of  Voluntiers, — 
making  Choice  of  our  own  Officers;  to  whom,  for  the  Sake  of  Good-order  & 
Regularity,  We  will  pay  due  [sujbmission.  That  We  will  meet  at  such  Times 
& places  in  this  County  as  our  said  Officers  (to  be  chosen  by  a Majority  of  the 
Members,  so  soon  as  fifty  have  subscribed)  shall  appoint  & direct,  for  the 


232  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Purpose  of  learning  & practising  the  military  Exercise  & Discipline;  dress’d  in 
a Regular  Uniform  of  Blue,  turn’d  up  with  Buff,  [w]ith  plain  yellow  metal 
Butto[n]s,  Buff  Waist  Coat  & Breeches,  & white  Stockings;  and  furnished 
with  a good  Fire-lock  & Bayonet,  Sling  Cartouch-Box,  and  Tomahawk.  And 
that  We  will,  each  of  us,  constantly  keep  by  us  a Stock  of  Six  pounds  of 
Gunpowder,  twenty  pounds  of  Lead,  and  fifty  Gun-flints,  at  the  least. 

That  we  will  use  our  most  Endeavours,  as  well  at  the  Musters  of  the  said 
Company,  as  by  all  other  Means  in  our  Power,  to  make  ourselves — Masters  of 
the  Military  Exercise.  And  that  We — will  always  hold  ourselves  in  Readiness, 
in  Case  of  Necessity,  hostile  Invasion,  or  real  Danger  of  the  Community  of 
which  We  are  Members,  to  defend  to  the  utmost  of  our  Power,  the  legal 
prerogatives  of  our  Sovereign  King  George  the  third,  and  the  jus[t]  Rights 
& Privileges  of  our  Country,  our  Posterity  & ourselves,  upon  the  Principles  of 
the  British  Constitutio[n]. 

Agreed  that  all  the  Subscribers  to  this  Association  do  meet  on  Monday  the 
17th  Day  of  October  next,  at  eleven  o’Clock  in  the  Fore-noon,  at  the  Court 
House  in  Alexandria].14 

His  career,  young  Harry  Lee  thought,  would  be  in  law  and  the  "field 
of  legislation.”  The  word  "politics”  had  no  place  in  his  idealism.  Dur- 
ing the  next  two  years  spent  at  home  under  the  tutelage  of  his  father, 
Harry  Lee  was  prepared,  "by  a course  of  education  for  the  profession 
of  the  law,  and  he  was  just  about  embarking  for  England  to  pursue  the 
study  of  it  under  the  patronage  of  his  relative,  since  known  as  Bishop 
Porteous,  when  the  commencement  of  hostilities  changed  his  destiny.”15 

Before  the  "hostilities,”  however,  the  college  lad  frequently  visited 
his  kinspeople  and  old  family  friends  in  the  Northern  Neck,  where  he 
was  a popular  and  attractive  figure.  Several  spicy  anecdotes  are  related 
of  him,  the  tutor  Philip  Fithian,  his  former  classmate,  being  one  of  the 
commentators.  His  biographers  speak  of  the  hunts,  house  parties,  and 
balls,  etc.,  which  made  gay  the  life  of  Virginia  young  people,  in  which 
he  had  part. 

Doubtless,  too,  there  were  quiet  intervals  at  Leesylvania  when  he 
reread  the  classics  he  had  come  to  love  at  Princeton,  and  reviewed  the 
tactics  and  campaigns  of  his  favorite  generals.  He  began  his  military 
career  in  a modest  way  organizing  and  drilling  the  militia  of  Prince 
William  County. 

Soon  after  the  battle  of  Lexington  Harry  Lee  entered  the  Continental 
army  as  captain  of  cavalry,  at  the  age  of  nineteen.  He  received  from 
Governor  Patrick  Henry  his  appointment  to  command  one  of  the  com- 

14Fairfax  Resolves,  1774,  from  photostat  Library  of  Congress. 

“Excerpt  from  Letter  X:  Observations  on  the  Writings  of  Thomas  Jefferson,  by  H.  Lee 

(1839),  p.  137. 


p.  332. 


panies  in  the  Virginia  Light  Dragoons  under  Colonel  Theodorick 
Bland,  his  kinsman. 

Says  Edmund  Jennings  Lee: 

. . . Lee  soon  distinguished  himself  by  his  thorough  discipline  of  his  troop- 
ers, as  well  as  by  the  care  and  attention  given  to  their  horses  and  equipment. 
He  wrote  his  colonel,  under  date  of  13th  of  April,  1777,  ”...  How  happy 
would  I be,  if  it  was  possible  for  my  men  to  be  furnished  with  caps  and  boots, 
prior  to  my  appearance  at  head-quarters!  You  know,  my  dear  Colonel,  that, 
justly,  an  officer’s  reputation  depends  not  only  on  the  discipline,  but  appear- 
ance of  his  men.  Could  the  articles  mentioned  be  allowed  my  troop,  their 
appearance  into  Morris  [Morristown]  would  secure  me  from  the  imputation 
of  carelessness  as  their  captain,  and  I have  vanity  enough  to  hope  would  assist 
in  procuring  some  little  credit  to  the  colonel  and  regiment.  Pardon  my  solicita- 
tions on  any  head  respecting  the  condition  of  my  troop;  my  sole  object  is  the 
credit  of  the  regiment.” 

E.  Jennings  Lee  concludes  that  Harry  Lee’s  appearance  must  have 
been  such  as  he  desired,  "or  his  subsequent  behaviour  in  active  service 
must  have  been  successful,  for  he  appears  to  have  won  the  esteem  and 
affection  of  Washington  very  early  in  the  war.  It  is  certain  that  he  was 
frequently  employed  by  his  commander  on  confidential  missions  and  in 
hazardous  expeditions.” 

The  engagements  in  which  Legion  Harry  had  part  while  attached  to 
the  army  in  the  north  are  summed  up  by  his  son  Henry: 

Besides  being  present  at  other  important  actions,  in  the  northern  department, 
he  was  at  the  battles  of  Brandywine,  Germantown,  Monmouth,  and  Springfield; 
and  soon  became  a favourite  of  Gen.  Washington.  In  the  difficult  and  critical 
operations  in  Pennsylvania,  New  Jersey,  and  New  York,  from  1777  to  1780 
inclusive,  he  was  always  placed  near  the  enemy,  entrusted  with  the  command 

[233] 


234 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


of  the  outposts,  with  the  superintendence  of  spies,  and  with  that  kind  of  service, 
which  required  in  an  eminent  degree,  the  possession  of  coolness,  address,  and 
enterprise.  During  the  occupation  of  Philadelphia  by  the  royal  forces,  his 
activity  and  success  in  straitening  their  communications,  in  cutting  off  their 
light  parties  and  intercepting  their  supplies,  drew  on  him  the  particular  at- 
tention of  the  enemy.  And  being  attacked  in  consequence,  his  defence  of  the 
Spread  Eagle  Tavern,  with  only  ten  men,  against  Tarleton  at  the  head  of  two 
hundred,  which  has  been  already  alluded  to,  excited  no  little  admiration.  When 
the  distress  of  the  army  for  provisions  reduced  Gen.  Washington  to  the  neces- 
sity of  foraging  for  supplies,  as  if  he  had  occupied  the  country  of  an  enemy,  a 
measure  which,  as  may  be  supposed,  excited  the  most  injurious  discontent 
among  the  inhabitants,  Lee,  being  employed  on  it,  had  the  address  to  execute 
this  painful  but  necessary  duty,  without  exciting  the  smallest  disaffection.  He 
co-operated  as  far  as  cavalry  could  act,  in  Gen.  Wayne’s  attack  on  Stony  Point, 
and  procured  the  intelligence  on  which  it  was  projected.  Indeed,  from  a part 
of  his  correspondence  with  Gen.  Washington  which  has  been  preserved,  it 
seems  not  improbable  that  Major  Lee  suggested  that  brilliant  enterprise.  . . ,16 
So  ingenious,  so  daring  and  skillful  was  Harry  Lee  that  General 
Washington  urged  Congress  to  give  him  the  command  of  an  independ- 
ent corps : 

Captain  Lee  of  the  light  dragoons,  and  the  officers  under  his  command,  hav- 
ing uniformly  distinguished  themselves  by  a conduct  of  exemplary  zeal,  pru- 
dence, and  bravery,  I took  occasion,  on  a late  signal  instance  of  it,  to  express 
the  high  sense  I entertained  of  their  merit,  and  to  assure  him,  that  it  should  not 
fail  of  being  properly  noticed.  I was  induced  to  give  this  assurance  from  a 
conviction,  that  it  is  the  wish  of  Congress  to  give  every  encouragement  to 
merit,  and  that  they  would  cheerfully  embrace  so  favorable  an  opportunity  of 
manifesting  this  disposition.  I had  it  in  contemplation  at  the  time,  in  case 
no  other  method  more  eligible  could  be  adopted,  to  make  an  offer  of  a place 
in  my  family.  I have  consulted  the  committee  of  Congress  upon  the  subject,  and 
we  are  mutually  of  the  opinion,  that  giving  Captain  Lee  the  command  of  two 
troops  of  horse  on  the  proposed  establishment,  with  the  rank  of  major,  to  act 
as  an  independent  corps,  would  be  a mode  of  rewarding  him  very  advantageous 
to  the  service.  Captain  Lee’s  genius  particularly  adapts  him  to  command  of 
this  nature;  and  it  will  be  most  agreeable  to  him  of  any  station  in  which  he 
could  be  placed. 

On  April  7,  1778,  Congress  passed  the  following  act: 

Resolved,  whereas  Captain  Henry  Lee,  of  the  Light  Dragoons,  by  the  whole 
tenor  of  his  conduct  during  the  last  campaign,  has  proved  himself  a brave  and 
prudent  officer,  rendered  essential  service  to  his  country,  and  acquired  to  him- 
self and  the  corps  he  commanded,  distinguished  honor,  and  it  being  the  de- 
termination of  Congress  to  reward  merit,  Resolved,  that  Captain  Henry  Lee  be 
promoted  to  the  rank  of  Major-Commandant;  that  he  be  empowered  to  aug- 


16Excerpt  from  Letter  X:  Observations  on  the  Writings  of  Thomas  Jefferson,  pp.  147  & 148. 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 


235 


ment  his  present  corps  by  enlistment  of  two  corps  of  horse,  to  act  as  a separate 
corps. 

"These  gay,  daring,  high-mettled  fellows,  of  whom  an  observer 
would  have  'counted  heroes  where  he  counted  men’ — reserved  for  criti- 
cal services  [were]  picked  man  by  man  from  the  army,  by  General  Wash- 
ington’’17 and  young  Harry  was  the  officer  placed  at  their  head.  Thus 
was  created  the  invincible  Legion  of  the  American  Revolution.  Lee  was 
termed  thereafter  "Legion  Harry,”  "Lee  of  the  Legion”  or  "Light-Horse 
Harry  Lee.”  His  exploits  stirred  the  youth  of  the  land. 

Harry’s  father,  deeply  gratified  and  proud  of  his  son’s  record,  wrote 
on  May  10,  1779,  to  Arthur  Lee  in  France:  "Tell  y.r  Sister  Lee  & Bror 
William  that  her  Aunt  is  well  & my  son  Harry  has  often  distinguished 
himself  in  the  horse  service  & is  now  Major  Commandant  of  an  Inde- 
pendd  Corps  of  Cavalry.”18 

In  speaking  further  of  the  organization  of  Light-Horse  Harry’s  fa- 
mous Legion,  Henrv  Lee,  Junior,  said: 

These  services  of  Gen.  Lee,  . . . gained  for  him  a reputation  for  talent  and 
patriotism,  which  induced  Congress  in  November,  1780,  to  promote  him  to  a 
Lieutenant  Colonelcy  of  dragoons,  and  to  augment  his  corps  by  adding  to 
it  three  companies  of  infantry,  the  officers  and  men  composing  which,  he  was 
authorized  by  Gen.  Washington  to  select  from  the  whole  army. 

With  this  chosen  corps,  he  was  soon  detached  to  join  the  army  of  Gen. 
Greene  in  the  south,  where  great  exertions  were  required  to  recover  the  ground 
lost  by  Gates’s  defeat  at  Camden.  On  this  occasion,  his  patriotism  exalted  by 
the  misfortunes  of  his  country,  he  expended  in  the  purchase  of  horses  for  his 
dragoons,  and  in  equipping  his  corps,  a considerable  part  of  the  small  fortune 
given  him  by  his  father,  a contribution  for  which,  though  it  proved  of  essential 
advantage  to  his  country,  he  never  received,  nor  even  asked  remuneration.19 

Major  Henry  Lee  adds  that  the  prevalence  of  blood  in  the  horses  of 
the  famous  Legion  made  it  "at  once  the  scourge  and  terror  of  the  enemy. 
Wonderful  in  their  endurance  of  hunger,  thirst,  and  fatigue;  prompt  to 
strike  a blow  where  it  was  the  least  expected;  and,  when  forced,  quick 
to  retreat.” 

Another  comment  from  within  the  family  circle  came  from  Dr.  Ship- 
pen  in  a letter  to  little  Tom,  then  at  Needwood  Forest  Academy  in 
Maryland:  "Major  Lee  now  Col.  Lee  on  his  way  to  the  southward  with 
his  Legion,  a very  fine  corps  130  horse  and  200  foot  I wish  you  to  see 
them  at  Frederick.” 

17 The  Campaign  of  1781  in  The  Carolina s,  p.  376. 

'"Original  unpublished  autographed  letter : Public  Record  Office,  London. 

18 Observations  on  the  IV ritings  of  Thomas  Jefferson,  by  H.  Lee,  with  introduction  and  notes 
by  Charles  Carter  Lee.  Philadelphia:  J.  Dobson  &c.  2d  ed.,  1839,  p.  151. 


236  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Young  Lee  held  the  confidence  and  approbation  of  Washington  as 
did  no  other  officer  of  his  years,  excepting  Lafayette.  By  act  of  Congress 
on  September  24,  1779,  a medal  was  awarded  Legion  Harry  in  recog- 
nition of  his  capture  of  Jersey  City,  then  termed  Paulus  Hook,  from  the 
British: 

Resolved,  that  the  thanks  of  Congress  be  given  to  Major  Lee  for  the  remark- 
able prudence,  address  and  bravery  displayed  in  the  attack  on  the  enemy’s  fort 
and  works  at  Paulus  Hook,  and  that  they  approve  the  humanity  shown  in  cir- 
cumstances prompting  to  severity,  as  honorable  to  the  arms  of  the  United 
States,  and  correspondent  to  the  noble  principles  on  which  they  were  assumed, 
and  that  a gold  medal,  emblematic  of  this  affair,  be  struck  under  the  direction 
of  the  Board  of  Treasury,  and  presented  to  Major  Lee. 

Such  an  inscription  with  noble  words  and  phrases  savoring  of  classic 
exploits  must  have  gratified  the  lad’s  heart. 

His  devoted  friend  and  companion-in-arms,  Marquis  de  Lafayette, 
whom  he  loved  and  confided  in,  wrote  from  the  Light  Camp  on  August 
27, 1780: 

The  more  I have  considered  the  situation  of  Paulus  Hook,  the  more  I have 
admired  your  enterprising  spirit,  and  all  your  conduct  in  that  business.  . . . 
All  motives  of  esteem  and  friendship  contribute  to  my  happiness  in  hearing 
that  you  are  directed  to  join  the  light  infantry,  and  I do  assure  you  that  I wish 
to  do  every  thing  in  my  power  to  procure  you  what  you  and  your  corps  will 
like  the  best,  viz.  fighting  and  glory. 

Again,  on  October  29,  Lafayette  said: 

From  my  soul,  my  dear  sir,  I wish  you  all  possible  success,  and  I ever  shall 
not  only  rejoice  but  also  glory  in  any  advantage  that  may  add  to  your  laurels. 
Let  me  often  hear  from  you,  and  be  sure  that  the  moment  when  I will  meet 
you  again  will  be  an  happy  one  for  me.  Present  my  best  compliments  to  the 
gentlemen  officers  of  your  legion,  and  tell  them,  as  well  as  your  soldiers,  that 
I shall  ever  preserve  the  most  perfect  esteem  and  affection  for  them.20 

Almost  every  design,  stratagem,  and  maneuver  Lee  originated  and  put 
into  execution,  succeeded.  His  first  scheme,  during  the  British  occupa- 
tion of  Philadelphia,  had  been  to  fool  the  soldiers  of  King  George,  to 
throw  dust  in  their  eyes  and  make  them  think  his  handful  of  troopers 
was  a regiment — a dozen  regiments.  And  he  did  impress  them  with 
the  size  and  power  of  the  Continental  army,  when  at  that  time  it  had 
neither.  His  next  plan,  to  feed  the  starving  men  at  Valley  Forge  by  hook 
or  crook,  was  also  successful.  Then  came  Stony  Point,  Paulus  Hook,  his 
daring  exploits  in  the  Carolinas,  and  finally  his  plan  to  bottle  up  Corn- 
wallis in  Virginia. 

Few  young  officers  in  the  Continental  army  conceived  so  many  start- 


~°Lee's  Campaign  of  1781,  1824.  H.  Lee,  Appendix  A. 


Colonel  Harry  Lee  of  the  Legions. 


238 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


ling  plans  and  stratagems.  Here  was  the  amazing  spectacle  of  a twenty- 
one-year-old  boy  totally  without  military  experience,  originating  some 
of  the  most  brilliant  and  effective  projects  of  the  American  Revolution. 
That  Washington  and  Greene  encouraged  the  initiative  of  their  young 
subordinate  and  perceived  the  adroitness  of  the  plans  he  originated  re- 
dounds to  the  credit  of  their  own  leadership.  But  certain  of  Lee’s  brother 
officers,  jealous  of  his  position  and  success,  took  the  credit  for  many  of 
his  designs  and  exploits.  This  circumstance,  occurring  again  and  again, 
plunged  Lee  into  despondency,  and  put  him  into  the  false  position  of  a 
credit-seeker,  when  he  asked  only  that  his  merit  be  justly  recognized  and 
that  deserts  due  him  should  not  be  given  others. 

A full  report  of  Lee’s  services  in  the  Revolution  has  never  been  com- 
piled. As  the  evidence  is  studied  and  weighed  by  psychologists  and 
historians,  the  place  won  by  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  in  the  war  of  the 
American  Revolution  takes  on  greater  importance  from  year  to  year. 

Legion  Harry’s  true  nature  and  temperament  are  perhaps  best  shown 
in  this  letter,  written  at  Camp  New  Garden,  March  20,  1781,  addressed 
"to  the  Commanding  Officers  of  the  Militia  of  Roan,  Surry,  and  Meck- 
lenburgh  Counties,  North  Carolina: 

My  friends  and  countrymen. 

Being  near  your  county,  and  well  knowing  the  patriotism  and  gallantry 
which  you  have  uniformly  displayed  in  defence  of  your  country,  I conceive  it 
my  duty  to  inform  you  of  the  present  situation  of  our  affairs. 

You  have  already  heard  of  the  general  action  between  the  two  armies  on  the 
15th  instant.  It  is  unnecessary  to  acquaint  you  with  the  effects  of  that  engage- 
ment, as  the  retreat  of  Lord  Cornwallis,  and  the  pursuit  of  General  Greene, 
best  discover  the  real  loss  on  each  side.  But  a very  small  part  of  the  regular 
troops  engaged;  some  new  raised  troops  behaved  dastardly,  which  confused  the 
regiments  nearest  them,  and  rendered  it  prudent  to  retire  and  postpone  the 
decision  to  another  day. 

The  enemy’s  small  army  is  reduced  to  a very  insignificant  body,  their  most 
experienced  general  and  officers,  and  their  bravest  soldiers  are  killed  and 
wounded.  Cornwallis  has  left  a number  behind  him  at  New  Garden  Meeting 
House,  and  is  running  with  his  broken  army  to  some  place  of  safety.  His 
deluded  friends,  our  unhappy  brethren  called  tories,  experience  the  imbecility 
of  his  pretences  to  protect  them,  and  are  prudently  throwing  themselves  on 
the  mercy  of  their  countrymen.  General  Greene  is  advancing  with  his  army  in 
health  and  spirits  to  overtake  the  foe,  determined  to  fight  them  as  soon  as  he 
can  reach  them.  The  French  fleet  are  victorious  in  Europe,  in  the  West  Indies 
and  in  America;  and  General  Washington  keeps  Sir  Henry  Clinton  close  in 
New  York.  General  Arnold  with  his  army  in  Virginia  is  besieged  at  Ports- 
mouth, and  on  the  point  of  surrendering  to  the  Marquis  Lafayette.  Every  opera- 
tion in  every  part  of  the  world  promises  immediate  and  decisive  success  to 


THE  FIFTH  GENERATION  OF  THE  LEES 


239 


America.  Come  then  my  friends,  fly  to  your  arms,  and  by  your  efforts  for  a few 
days  delay  the  enemy’s  retreat  till  your  countrymen  can  get  up  with  them. 
Recollect  our  glorious  exertion  the  last  campaign,  and  let  it  not  be  said  that 
you  shrink  from  danger  at  this  interesting  crisis.  Before  this  can  reach  you, 
you  will  know  whether  the  enemy  direct  their  flight  by  Cross  creek  or  through 
your  county.  In  either  case  it  is  my  hope  and  expectation  that  you  will  be 
near  them,  and  be  assured  take  what  route  they  may,  you  will  find  horse  and 
foot  from  General  Greene’s  army,  convenient  for  your  junction.  This  letter  is 
meant  for  the  information  of  all  our  southern  friends,  but  especially  for  such 
of  our  brave  countrymen  in  the  counties  of  Roan,  Surry,  and  Mecklenburgh,  as 
may  not  be  in  actual  service  under  General  Sumpter.  Wishing  you  every  hap- 
piness public  and  private,  I am, 

Your  friend  and  soldier, 

Henry  Lee,  Jun.21 

Such  a letter,  brief,  concise,  and  friendly,  must  have  stirred  the  friend- 
ship and  admiration  of  the  men  to  whom  it  was  addressed,  friendship 
that  would  last  long  after  their  colonel’s  project  for  the  capture  of 
Cornwallis  had  been  accomplished  and  he  had  begun  his  journey  back 
to  Stratford  and  Matilda. 


^Appendix  XXX,  Lee’s  Campaign  of  1781. 


CHAPTER  XII:  THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 

1 

IN  the  spring  of  1782  the  Great  House  with  its  village  of  outbuild- 
ings, its  gardens,  stables,  shops,  mills,  farms  and  fisheries,  passed 
from  the  ownership  of  Matilda  and  Flora  to  that  of  Matilda  and 
Light-Horse  Harry  Lee.  Matilda’s  mother  moved  to  her  new  home  near 
Alexandria  and  Flora  went  with  her. 

For  Colonel  Harry,  as  he  was  invariably  called  in  the  family,  the  life 
of  a country  gentleman  and  a farmer  was  now  in  prospect.  The  various 
acts  of  personal  injustice  he  suffered  in  the  army,  which  had  so  disil- 
lusioned and  embittered  him,  apparently  receded  into  the  background 
of  his  thoughts  as  time  went  on  and  his  health  and  happiness  were 
restored.  After  all,  if  he  had  but  a scant  supply  of  laurels  to  bring  to 
Matilda,  what  of  it? 

Matilda  was  a young  woman  of  good  sense.  And  she  had  a very 
real  devotion  for  her  husband,  "my  gentleman,”  she  called  him.  She 
would  scarcely  have  set  store  by  any  outward  symbols  of  his  valor,  the 
calibre  of  which  she  must  have  known  for  herself.  It  was  privilege 
enough,  she  might  have  argued,  for  her  lover  to  have  had  a part  equally 
with  other  patriot  soldiers  in  defending  his  native  land  and  in  establish- 
ing the  new  nation. 

Colonel  Harry  was  not  well  fitted  for  the  vocation  that  he  now 
elected.  In  the  handling  of  details  of  plantation  business  he  had  little 
training  beyond  a single  year’s  management  of  Leesylvania  during  his 
father’s  absence.  Any  tendency  that  he  might  have  had  toward  orderly 
and  practical  business  habits  would  have  been  completely  uprooted  by 
the  chaotic  conditions  of  his  life  in  the  succeeding  years  of  the  Revolu- 
tionary War. 

In  August,  1782,  took  place  a partition  of  the  properties  of  the  Strat- 
ford estate  and  other  inherited  lands  between  the  widow  of  Philip 
Ludwell  Lee,  her  daughter  Flora,  and  Matilda  and  Harry  Lee.  In  the 
negotiations  to  acquire  Matilda’s  share  free  and  clear,  Harry  and  Ma- 
tilda gave  bond  of  twenty  thousand  pounds  to  the  executors  of  the 
estate: 

LEE  TO  LEE:  Know  all  men  by  these  presant  that  we  Henry  Lee,  Junior  of 
Westmoreland  County  in  the  State  of  Virginia  and  Matilda  Lee  wife  of  the 
said  Henry  Lee,  Junior  are  held  and  firmly  bound  unto  Richard  Henry  Lee, 
Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  and  Philip  Richard  Fendall  and  Elizabeth  his  wife, 
Administrators  of  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Esq.  late  of  the  County  aforesaid  de- 
ceased, in  the  full  and  Just  sum  of  Twenty  thousand  pounds,  Specie,  to  be 
paid  to  the  said  Richard  Henry  Lee,  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee  and  Philip  Richard 

[240] 


241 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 

Fendall  and  Elizabeth  his  wife,  their  certain  Attorney,  Executors,  Administra- 
tors or  Assigns,  To  the  which  payment  well  and  truly  to  be  made  and  done,  we 
bind  ourselves  our  heirs,  Executors  and  Administrators  in  and  for  the  whole 
Jointly  and  Severally  firmly  by  these  present,  Sealed  with  our  Seal  and  dated 
this  eighteenth  day  of  May,  one  thousand  Seven  hundred  and  Eighty  two — 

The  Condition  of  the  above  Obligation  is  such  that  whereas  the  said  Henry 
Lee,  Junior  hath  Intermarried  with  the  said  Matilda  Lee  and  both  of  them  are 
desirous  that  partition  be  presently  made  of  the  estate  of  the  said  Philip  Lud- 
weli  Lee,  between  his  children  and  whereas  there  may  be  many  debts,  dues  and 
demands  upon  and  owing  from  the  said  Estate,  by  reason  of  which  damage 
and  injury  may  Accrue  to  the  said  Richd.  Henry  Lee,  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee 
and  Philip  Richard  Fendall  and  Elizabeth  his  wife  Administrators  as  aforesaid 
if  they  should  deliver  up  the  said  Matilda’s  Moeity  of  the  said  Estate  before 
such  debts,  dues  & demand  be  finally  settled,  adjusted  and  paid.  Now  if  the 
said  Henry  Lee,  Junior  and  Matilda  his  wife,  do  and  shall  well  and  truly 
satisfy  and  pay  or  cause  to  be  satisfied  and  paid,  such  full  and  just  proportion 
of  all  such  debts  dues  and  demands  as  may  or  shall  be  due  from  them  according 
to  the  part  of  the  Estate  that  shall  be  delivered  up  by  the  Administrators  afore- 
said. And  also  shall  in  every  respect  and  respects  whatsoever  will  and  truly 
save  harmless  and  indemnify  the  said  administrators  each  and  every  of  them 
from  or  for  any  injury  that  might  accrue  or  fall  upon  them  the  said  Adminis- 
trators or  any  of  them  by  or  for  so  delivering  the  said  Matilda’s  proportion  of 
her  father’s  Estate  to  her  and  her  husband  aforesaid,  then  the  above  obligation 
to  be  void,  or  else  to  stand  remain  and  be  full  force  and  Virtue  in  Law. 

Signed  Sealed  & delivered 

in  presence  of — 

Richd.  Parker.  Henry  Lee,  Jun. 

Jno.  Legg.  Mda.  Lee. 

At  a Court  held  for  Westmoreland  County  the  27th  day  of  August  1782 
This  Bond  was  proved  by  the  oath  of  Richard  Parker  a Witness  thereto  and 
ordered  to  be  Recorded.  R.  Bernard,  C.  W.  C.1 

There  were  hundreds  of  tillable  acres  in  the  uplands  of  Stratford,  and 
wide,  fertile  plains  extended  on  the  plateau  south  and  east  of  the  Great 
House.  Portions  of  these  lands,  it  appears,  Colonel  Harry  leased  to 
"small  farmers.”  From  early  times  there  had  evidently  been  tenants  on 
Stratford  properties,  but  not  to  the  extent  they  appear  during  the 
thirty-six  years  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  was  master  there.  Whether  any 
cash  rent  was  ever  charged  or  collected  for  the  various  Stratford  farms 
is  a question. 

A characteristic  act  of  Colonel  Harry  was  the  appointment  some  years 
later  of  his  namesake,  Henry  Welden,  to  be  overseer  of  Stratford. 
Henry  Welden  could  neither  read  nor  write.  He  was  born  and  brought 
up  at  Stratford,  was  evidently  entirely  without  training  or  equipment  of 


‘Westmoreland  County,  Virginia,  Records,  Inventories  & Accts.  Book  Sixth,  page  198. 


242 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


any  sort  to  manage  a plantation;  but  he  was  the  son  of  Light-Horse 
Harry’s  former  orderly  who  had  accompanied  his  colonel  from  the  Caro- 
linas  to  Stratford  when  he  came  to  marry  Matilda.  Nothing  henceforth 
was  too  good  for  Welden  and  Welden’s  children.  "The  old  Earl,”  as 
the  children  called  him,  was  given  a house  at  Stratford  and  a living  for 
the  rest  of  his  days.  In  the  manuscript"  written  by  Charles  Carter  Lee 
much  light  is  thrown  upon  this  period  of  Stratford’s  history;  Carter  Lee 
tells  the  story  in  his  own  words: 

How  well  I remember  him  when  he  had  become  old  George  Welden;  with 
his  hale  complexion  & his  long  grey  locks,  & how  impressed  I used  to  be  with 
his  affection  for  my  father,  whose  hand,  after  a return  from  a long  absence,  I 
once  saw  him  kiss.  He  was  a great  talker  & not  more  averse  than  Nestor  to 
enlarge  on  the  achievements  of  his  youth.  He  used  to  say  that  he  was  never 
of  any  great  service  to  his  Colonel  until  he  was  ’specially  opposed  to  Lord 
Cornwallis;  but  then  he  helped  him  powerfully.  For  the  Col:  knew  nothing 
about  Lords,  but  he  (being  an  Englishman)  knew  all  about  them  in  the  old 
country;  & could  put  the  Col:  up  to  their  ways,  & did  it  accordingly.  . . . 

. . . He  became  one  of  the  happy  tenantry  of  Stratford,  among  whom  (I 
think)  he  married,  & where  I knew  him  in  my  boy  hood — 

"begirt  with  growing  infancy  Daughters  & sons  of  beauty.” 

He  was  so  happy  as  to  be  a great  admirer  of  the  beauty  of  his  wife  "bloused 
with  health”  as  were  her  cheeks,  which  he  was  fond  of  comparing  to  full 
blown  roses,  but  which  a gay  young  visiter  at  Stratford  used  to  attempt  to  dark 
his  praises  of  by  begging  to  substitute  hollyhocks  for  roses,- — an  emendment, 
which  I think,  was  generally  concurred  in,  but  which  the  fond  husband  insisted 
with  that  "faith  whose  martyrs,  are”  perhaps  more  often  of  ridicule,  than  of 
"the  broken  heart.”  The  aspirations  to  learning  of  one  of  his  sons,  (Henry, 
probably  named  after  my  father)  were  the  humblest  I ever  heard  of.  He 
aspired  to  be  an  overseer,  & being  asked  by  the  pu[r]poses  to  employ  him  as 
such  if  he  could  write — most  animately  replied,  "No!  but  I can  keep  a tally 
with  a pen.”  The  ingenuousness  of  manner  & the  fun  of  the  matter,  so  allevi- 
ated the  objection  arising  from  his  want  of  every  clerical  accomplishment,  that 
he  obtained  the  coveted  office.  I know  his  employer  was  familiar  with  Mar- 
mion,  & perhaps  thought  the  old  Dou[g] lass’s  objections  to  that  hero  were 
not  so  rediculous  as  they  are  generally  accounted. 

"I  never  liked  his  courtly  parts 
I never  liked  his  clerkly  arts. 

Thanks  to  St:  Bothan!  son  of  mine 
Save  Jarl,  could  never  write  a line.” 

The  tenantry  of  Stratford  would  never  have  incurred  the  displeasure  of  the 
old  Earl  by  any  such  accomplishments.  . . . 

The  picture  plainly  shows  the  friendly,  "easy-going,”  unbusinesslike, 
and  more  or  less  sentimental  aspect  of  the  management  of  Stratford 


’Original  Lee  document.  Photostat  collection.  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Inc. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


243 


Plantation  in  this  regime  of  the  fifth  generation  of  the  Lees.  It  was, 
however,  a welcome  contrast  to  the  severe  and  dictatorial  rule  of  Ma- 
tilda’s father  prior  to  his  marriage  to  Elizabeth  Steptoe. 

Stratford  was  too  isolated  to  permit  a frequent  interchange  of  social 
visits  such  as  prevailed  among  the  families  living  in  the  great  houses  on 
James  River.  The  families  McCarty,  of  Pope’s  Creek  Plantation,  the 
Washingtons,  of  Bridges’  Creek  and  Bushfield,  and  the  Carters,  Fitz- 
hughs,  and  Turners  seem  to  have  been  among  the  neighbors  most  fre- 
quently associated  with  the  Lees  in  this  as  in  the  subsequent  generations. 
Most  of  Stratford’s  visitors  during  the  first  years  when  Colonel  Harry 
was  master  appear  to  have  been  his  old  soldiers  of  the  Legion.  Many  of 
them,  destitute  after  the  war,  sought  out  their  beloved  colonel  at  Strat- 
ford. They  had  no  other  place  to  go  for  succor;  they  had  no  other  man 
to  whom  they  could  turn  who  would  make  their  cause  his  own. 

Thomas  Boyd  relates  how  Lee  procured  for  the  Virginians  of  his 
Legion  an  equal  share  of  bounties  which  were  distributed  by  the  state 
for  men  of  the  Virginia  line.  In  his  Light  Horse  Harry  Lee  he  also  de- 
scribes a damage  suit  wrongfully  instituted  in  the  courts  against  one  of 
the  colonel’s  legionaries  and  tells  how  Lee  adjusted  the  matter  by  tak- 
ing it  directly  to  General  Washington. 

Even  had  Colonel  Harry  been  seriously  disposed  to  turn  farmer,  con- 
ditions and  people  conspired  to  claim  his  time  for  other  interests  than 
his  own.  Naturally  concerned  in  political  affairs,  he  rode  long  distances 
to  attend  meetings.  He  must  have  been  a picturesque  figure  in  West- 
moreland as  he  cantered  over  the  countryside  on  his  thoroughbred 
mount  followed  by  his  retinue  of  dogs.  Despite  Matilda’s  tempering 
hand  there  was,  no  doubt,  at  this  period  of  his  life  a wildness  in  Harry 
Lee’s  nature,  a spirit  of  bravado,  quick  temper,  and  unrestrained  speech 
learned  in  camp  and  battlefield.  Color  was  given  this  tradition  and 
serious  harm  done  to  his  reputation  by  absurd  tales.  One  of  these 
anecdotes  appeared  in  the  Maryland  Gazette,  July  8,  1785.  It  is  repro- 
duced here  because  it  evidently  had  wide  circulation  and  tended  to 
form  and  crystallize  an  adverse  public  opinion  of  what  was  merely  a 
superficial,  passing  phase  in  any  young  soldier’s  career.  It  relates  to  one 
of  Lee’s  political  jaunts  to  Williamsburg: 

. . . Another  time  his  Excellency  [Lee]  got  a severe  drubbing,  which  seemed 
to  be  intended  as  a mark  of  justice  for  his  impiety  and  blasphemy.  He  was  once 
riding  to  Williamsburgh,  to  attend  the  Assembly,  and  as  usual,  was  accom- 
panied by  a number  of  dogs,  among  which  was  one  whom  he  called  by  the 
name  of  our  Saviour.  A few  miles  from  Williamsburgh,  he  fell  in  with  a man. 


244 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


who  eyed  this  dog  with  particular  attention,  and  at  last  demanded  if  he 
would  sell  him.  "Sell  my  dog!  no,”  replied  Lee,  "what  do  you  mean  by  that?” 
— The  man,  however,  taking  Lee,  from  his  dress,  to  be  no  way  his  superior, 
continued  to  press  him,  and  offered  so  large  a sum,  as  to  raise  the  General’s 
curiosity  to  ask  the  man  for  what  purpose  he  was  so  anxious  for  the  dog, 
"Why,”  replied  he,  "I  want  him  to  fight  the  devil” — . Lee,  who  from  the  name 
he  had  given  the  dog  supposed  the  fellow  meant  to  insult  him,  threatened  to 
cain  him.  The  man  returned  the  compliment  by  a torrent  of  abuse;  and  Lee 
was  irritated  to  strike  him;  which  the  fellow  returned  with  such  interest,  that 
the  General,  on  his  arrival  at  Williamsburgh,  was  confined  some  days  in  his 
room  by  a variety  of  colours  which  arose  round  his  eyes,  and  which,  though 
esteemed  ornaments  by  the  Indians,  are  considered  in  a different  light  by  us. 
On  enquiry,  the  man  proved  to  be  the  master  of  a puppet  shew,  and  having 
lost  the  dog,  which  used  to  attack  his  infernal  majesty,  had  endeavoured  to 
procure  Lee’s  for  that  use;  having  no  idea  that  the  animal’s  name  was  so 
apropos.3 

This  story  doubtless  reached  Colonel  Harry’s  kinswoman,  Alice  Lee 
Shippen  in  Philadelphia,  for  she  wrote  her  son,  who  at  this  time  was 
studying  law  at  the  College  of  William  and  Mary  at  Williamsburg: 
"My  dear  Tommy  I have  just  heard  some  anecdotes  of  Gen.  Lee  that 
make  highly  improper  you  should  visit  or  be  seen  with  him.  His  pro- 
fanity has  always  been  an  objection  & his  imprudence  makes  it  alto- 
gether wrong  for  any  person  who  wou’d  be  tho’t  a whig  to  be  intimate 
or  of  choice  with  him.  . . .”4 

Harry  and  Matilda  Lee’s  first  child  was  a son,  born  late  in  1784.  He 
was  named  for  General  Nathanael  Greene,  under  whom  his  father  had 
served  in  the  Carolinas  and  Georgia.  Within  the  next  three  years  Ma- 
tilda bore  two  other  children,  Philip  Ludwell  and  Lucy  Grymes,  who 
was  named  for  Lee’s  mother.  Nathanael  Greene  Lee  died  in  early  in- 
fancy. 

More  and  more  Colonel  Harry  became  immersed  in  politics.  On 
November  15,  1785,  by  joint  ballot  of  both  houses,  he  was  elected  a 
delegate  to  serve  in  Congress,  "from  the  time  of  his  appointment  until 
the  first  Monday  in  November,  1786.”  The  signature  of  Governor 
Patrick  Henry  was  on  this  document  as  it  had  been  on  Lee’s  initial  ap- 
pointment as  captain  of  one  of  the  cavalry  troops  in  Theodorick  Bland’s 
regiment  in  the  Continental  Army  nine  years  before. 

As  Matilda  was  just  recovering  from  Lucy’s  birth,  Colonel  Harry 
went  alone  to  New  York.  At  length  he  found  a residence  that  would 

3Biographical  Anecdotes  of  the  late  General  Lee.  Department  of  Records  and  Research, 
Williamsburg  Holding  Corporation. 

4Shippen  Papers. 


Across  the  broad  expanse  of  fragrant  gardens  was  the  family  burial  ground  of  the  Strat- 
ford Lees. 


246  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

be  comfortable  for  "his  Mrs.  Lee.”  During  April,  1786,  Matilda  left 
Stratford  with  the  children  and  several  servants  for  New  York.  It  was 
a long  and  arduous  journey  for  the  fragile  young  mother  and  the  chil- 
dren. When  they  reached  Alexandria  and  stopped  for  a visit  with 
Matilda’s  mother,  it  was  decided  to  leave  the  baby  with  her.  Matilda 
then  proceeded  on  the  tedious  drive  north.  Colonel  Harry  met  his 
family  at  Chester,  and  at  once  placed  Matilda  under  Dr.  Shippen’s  care, 
for  their  next  stop  was  at  Shippen  House  in  Philadelphia. 

The  affectionate  relations  between  Colonel  Harry  and  his  wife’s 
mother  are  apparent  from  this  unpublished  letter  he  wrote  her  from 
Philadelphia,  May  6,  1786,  which  contains  a postscript  in  Matilda’s 
hand: 

The  joy  of  my  present  moments  is  heightened  by  the  conviction  I feel  of 
the  pleasure  your  maternal  tenderness  will  experience  in  knowing  that  your 
dear  Matilda  & Grandson  are  safe  with  me.  I met  them  at  Chester  on  Thursday 
last  very  well,  but  fatigued.  They  arrived  here  on  friday.  Phil  was  inoculated 
the  same  evening  & all  of  the  servants — We  set  out  on  tuesday  for  New  York, 
where  we  shall  be  on  the  following  thursday.  Doctor  Shippen  has  us  under  his 
care  & promises  safety  to  his  patients.  My  next  letter  I trust  will  inform  of 
the  recovery  of  your  favorite,  who  is  universally  admired — our  love  to  Flora 
God  bless  you 

Yours  affectionately 

H.  Lee  Junr 
May  6th  86 
Philadelphia 

I opened  this  to  see  if  my  gentleman  had  been  explicit.  Kiss  my  dear  Lucy 
for  me.  Matilda. 

Addressed:  Mrs  Fendall.5 

This  postscript  is  the  only  fragment  of  Matilda’s  original  handwriting 
that  has  ever  been  found,  with  the  exception  of  the  names  written  on  the 
pane  of  glass  at  Stratford. 

The  Lees  lived  for  some  time  in  New  York.  During  the  summer  they 
made  several  trips  to  the  springs  in  the  upper  part  of  the  state  for 
Matilda’s  benefit.  Colonel  Harry  wrote  from  Albany  to  one  of  their 
Westmoreland  friends,  John  James  Maund,  July  23,  of  this  year: 
dear  sir 

I met  here  yesterday  y.r  let.r  of  the  5th  on  our  return  from  Balston  springs 
the  waters  whereof  are  in  high  repute  & were  prescribed  by  Mrs  Lees  physician 
as  indispensible  to  her.  Much  time  & money  have  been  appropriated  to  this 
trip  which  has  not  answered  all  our  hopes,  tho  Mrs  L is  better  & if  her  condi- 
tion will  permit,  we  shall  reach  home  early  in  Sep.tr,  soon  after  which  my  long 

r’Original  unpublished  letter  to  Mrs.  Fendall  from  Henry  Lee,  Junior,  Philadelphia,  May  6, 
1786.  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


247 


afflicted  wife  will  reach  the  point  which  will  decide  her  fate  & if  she  shall 
acquire  strength  to  go  well  thro  her  delivery,  I may  be  rewarded  for  the  ex- 
ertions so  constantly  given  for  8 months  toward  her  restoration.  At  any  other 
period  such  a sickness  would  have  been  more  tolerable  but  in  my  present 
condition  the  calamity  is  great,  [for]  it  stops  my  personal  attention  to  the 
business  which  so  necessarily  engages  me.  Lucy  & my  children  are  well  & have 
generally  been  so.G 

There  were  frequent  visits  to  Philadelphia,  where  the  Lees  stayed  at 
Shippen  House.  Dr.  Shippen’s  utmost  skill  was  called  upon  to  restore 
Matilda.  By  this  time  family  cares,  anxieties,  and  responsibilities  had 
no  doubt  quieted  Colonel  Harry’s  exuberant  spirits  to  such  a degree 
that  he  no  longer  shocked  his  pious  cousin,  Mrs.  Alice  Lee  Shippen,  by 
"his  profanity  and  imprudence.”  He  even  appears  to  have  favorably 
impressed  these  hospitable  kinspeople,  for  he  is  frequently  mentioned 
in  the  Shippen  letters  and  journals.  One  of  these  references  is  in  a 
letter  written  November  7,  1787,  by  Dr.  Shippen  to  Tom,  then  in  Lon- 
don: 

Col.  Harry  & Mrs  Lee  have  spent  this  evening  with  us  in  a very  friendly 
sociable  manner,  Oysters  & Eggs  our  Repast — Mr  & Mrs  Bingham  called  in  the 
evening  & sat  with  us  about  an  hour,  Mrs  Lee  had  never  seen  her,  was  much 
delighted  with  her  indeed  & Mrs  B.  thought  Mrs  Lee  very  like  what  your 
Mamma  was — your  Letters  pleased  them  much,  The  Col  speaks  highly  of 
your  abilities  & enviable  prospects — They  set  off  tomorrow  for  Virginia — 
Nancy  behaved  like  a Virginian  like  her  Mother. 

Good  night  my  dr  Boy 

2 

In  April,  1786,  Harry  Lee  gives  an  interesting  and  self-revealing 
analysis  of  national  and  world  conditions  in  a letter  to  his  brother 
Richard  Bland  Lee: 

. . . our  prospects  in  Europe  are  unpromising  and  will  be  more  so  in  pro- 
portion to  our  insignificance,  the  negotiations  with  the  Barbary  powers  will  I 
fear  be  ineffectual.  G Britain  knows  our  weakness  & will  not  be  operated  on 
by  fear,  the  only  passion  in  her  mind  which  can  ever  be  used  to  our  advantage 
— The  court  of  France  is  engaged  in  commercial  projects  all  pointing  to  her 
specially,  and  will  terminate  in  aggrandizement  and  consequence  to  that  pow- 
erful nation — Spain  initiates  her  plans,  and  aids  her  views — the  emperor  & 
the  King  of  prussia  are  quarrelling  about  Bavaria — the  United  provinces  are 
sill  [still]  out  of  humour  with  their  Statholder,  who  is  patronized  by  his  cousin 
of  prussia. 

Could  we  place  ourselves  on  a respectable  footing,  we  might  negotiate 
among  these  discordant  powers  to  advantage,  but  we  are  truely  contemptible, 
and  therefore  not  regarded.7 


“Original  unpublished  letter,  photostat  collection,  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Inc. 
’Collection  of  original  Lee  letters  and  documents  of  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation. 


14 


1.5 


mm  m 

fummons  with  mingled  emotions  of  indignation 
at  the  unmerited  iil-trea'ment  of  his  country,  and 
of  a determination  once  more  to  rifk  his  all  in 
her  defence. 

Tut  annunciation  of  thcfe  feelings,  in  his 
affecting  letter  to  the  Prefident,  accepting  the 
command  of  the  army,  concludes  his  official 
conduct. 

First  in  war,  Ftrfl  in  peace,  and  firft  in  the 
hearts  of  his  countrymen,  he  was  fecond  to  none 
in  the  humble  and  endearing  feenes  of  private 
life  : Pious,  juft,  humane,  temperate,  and  ftneere ; 
uniform,  dignified,  and  commanding,  his  example 
was  as  edifying  to  all  around  him  as  were  the 
die  ft  s of  that  example  lading. 

To  his  equals  he  was  condefcending ; to  his 
inferiors  kind  ; and  to  the  dear  object  of  his  affec- 
tions exemplariiy  tender  : Correct  throughout, 
vice  fhuddered  in  his  prefence,  and  virtue  always 
felt  his  fodering  hand  ; the  purity  of  his  private 
character  gave  effulgence  to  his  public  virtues. 

U is  lad  feene  comported  w ith  the  whole  tenor 
of  his  life  : Although  in  extreme  pain,  not  a figh, 
not  a groan  efcaped  .him  ; and  with  undidurbed 
ferenity  heclofed  his  well  fpent  life.  Such  was  the 
man  America  has  lod  ! Such  was  the  man  for 
whom  our  nation  mourns  ! 

Methinks  I fee  his  auguft  image,  and  hear, 
falling  from  his  venerable  lips,  thcfe  deep  finking 
word 


“ CEASF.,  Sons  of  America,  lamenting  our 
reparation  : Go  on,  and  confirm  by  your  v.ifdotn 
the  fruits  of  our  joint  councils,  joint  efforts,  and 
common  dangers.  Reverence  religion  ; diffufe 
knowledge  throughout  your  land  j patronize  the 
arts  and  fcicnces  ; let  Liberty  and  Order  be 
infeparable  companions  ; control  party  fpirit,  the 
bane  of  free  government  *,  obferve  good  faith  to, 
and  cultivate  peace  with  all  nations  ; fhut  up 
every  avenue  to  foreign  intluence  ; contract  rather 
than  extend  national  connexion  ; rely  on  your- 
felves  only-rBc  American  in  thought  and  deed. 
Thus  will  you  give  immortality  to  that  union, 
which  was  the  condant  object  of  my  terreltrial 
labours  : Thus  will  you  preferve  undidurbed  to 
the  iated  podcritv,  the  felicity  of  a people  to  me 
mod  dear  ; and  thus  will  you  fupply  (if  my  hap- 
pinefs  is  now  aught  to  you)  the  only  vacancy  in 
the  round  of  pure  blifs  high  Heaven  bellows. *’ 


« CEASE, 

Closing  paragraph  of  Henry  Lee's  oration  on  the  death  of  General  Washington. 


Another  excerpt  from  this  unpublished  letter  shows  that  bitter  ex- 
perience had  given  Lee  keen  eyesight: 

. . . Do  you  persevere  in  your  withdrawal]  from  the  assembly,  who  will 
succeed  you.  of  what  complexion  is  the  body  of  the  people  with  respect  to 
their  public  men  & public  affairs.  Do  they  impute  the  evils  which  menace  their 
natural  life  to  their  leaders,  or  their  own  vice  and  prodigality — Do  they  yet  see 
the  necessity  of  a government  adequate  to  its  object,  or  still  prefer  the  name  to 
substance. 

Are  they  not  apprised  by  this  time,  that  one  source  of  their  complicated 
misfortunes  is  the  invitation  which  the  state  and  nature  of  their  debts  offer  to 
all  orders  to  relinquish  every  profession  and  place  their  attention  to  jobbings 
& paper  securitys — agriculture  commerce  and  every  other  proper  ground  to 
render  a people  wealthy  and  respectable  yields  to  the  allurements  of  this 
vice — they  must  stop  it,  or  they  are  undone.  It  is  worse  than  the  plague  to  the 

[248] 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OE  STRATFORD 


249 


body,  and  more  pestilential  if  possible,  for  it  now  comprehends  both  good  & 
bad.  It  is  high  time  that  our  people  be  coerced  to  habits  of  industry,  otherwise 
our  produce  will  be  of  no  consequence — for  the  nations  of  Europe  are  all 
bending  their  application  to  the  culture  of  the  land,  and  our  only  chance  for 
existence,  is  to  be  able  to  undersell,  & to  make  up  in  quantity  what  we  loose  in 
price. 

One  of  the  congressional  committees  on  which  the  new  delegate 
from  Virginia  sat  was  that  appointed  to  examine  the  progress  made  in 
the  surveying  and  disposing  of  lands  in  the  western  territory  and  to 
consider  alterations  and  amendments  for  the  safety  and  development 
of  this  territory.  Thus  to  Harry  Lee,  among  others,  was  entrusted  the 
continuation  of  a national  enterprise  in  which  members  of  his  family 
had  been  engaged  since  the  days  of  the  Lancaster  Treaty. 

Colonel  Harry  urged  emphatically,  as  did  President  Lee,  the  protec- 
tion of  the  frontiers  from  Indian  attack.  He  initiated  the  plan  for  the 
organization  of  "the  Indian  Department.”  The  minutes  of  the  com- 
mittee include  the  motion  in  Lee’s  handwriting  presented  June  30,  1786  :s 

That  the  executive  of  the  state  of  Virginia  be  informed,  that  Congress, 
desirous  to  give  the  most  ample  protection  in  their  power  to  the  citizens  of  the 
United  States,  have  directed  their  commandant  on  the  Ohio,  to  detach  two 
companies  of  infantry  to  the  rapids  of  the  Ohio,  and  request  that  the  executive 
will  give  orders  to  the  militia  of  that  district  to  hold  themselves  in  readiness 
to  unite  with  the  federal  troops,  in  such  operations  as  the  Officer  commanding 
the  troops  of  the  United  States  may  judge  necessary,  for  the  protection  of  the 
frontiers,  who  is  hereby  authorized  and  directed,  in  case  of  necessity,  to  apply 
for  the  same  to  the  Amount  not  exceeding  one  thousand;  And  that  Congress 
now  have  under  their  deliberation  the  organization  of  the  Indian  department, 
for  the  purpose  of  extending  to  the  frontiers  regular  and  certain  security 
against  future  designs  of  the  Indians. 

Another  motion  in  Lee’s  handwriting,  dated  June  28,  1786,  inaugu- 
rated at  this  Congress  the  plan  for  the  formal  observance  of  the  anni- 
versary of  the  Declaration  of  Independence; 

Resolved,  That  tuesday  next,  being  the  Anniversary  of  the  declaration  of 
Independence,  there  shall  be  a public  Levee  at  the  President’s  house,  from  the 
hours  of  twelve  to  two,  to  receive  the  ordinary  congratulations,  and  that  the 
Secretary  of  Congress  take  Order  for  due  communication  thereof. 

Lee  set  in  motion  a national  memorial  to  General  Nathanael  Greene. 
Throughout  his  entire  life  George  Washington  and  Nathanael  Greene 
were  his  great  heroes;  and  his  admiration  for  their  personal  qualities  and 
their  military  skill  was  boundless.  Worship  of  these  two  men  was  al- 
most a religion  with  him.  How  indebted  to  them  the  nation  was  none 

8Papers,  No.  30,  folio  117,  Library  of  Congress.  Examined  for  the  writer  by  K.  L.  Trever. 


250 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


knew  better  than  he.  His  purpose  to  have  the  nation  honor  General 
Greene  as  he  did  took  concrete  form  at  this  Congress  of  1786. 

In  Lee’s  handwriting  is  the  following  motion  introduced  by  him  in 
committee:9 

Resolvd,  That  a monument  be  Erected  to  the  Memory  of  N.  Greene  esqr.  at 
the  seat  of  the  federal  government  with  the  following  inscription: 

Sacred  to  the  memory  of  N.  Greene,  esqr.,  who  departed  this  life  on  the 
19  of  June  86,  aged — , late  Major  General  in  the  service  of  the  U.  S.  and 
commander  of  their  army  in  the  Sou.  department. 

"Guilford — Cambden — Eutaw 
"judgement  Firmness  Glory 

The  Congress  of  the  U.  S.  in  honor  of  his  patriotism  valor  and  ability  have 
erected  this  monument.” 

Reported  from  committee  July  12,  the  motion  was  passed  August  12 
in  the  following  form: 

Report  of  Committee  (Lee  chairman)  adopted  in  following  resolution:  "Re- 
solved that  a monument  be  erected  to  the  Memory  of  Nathan[a]el  Greene, 
esquire  at  the  Seat  of  the  federal  government,  with  the  following  inscription: 

Sacred  to  the  Memory  of  Nathan[a]el  Greene,  Esqr-  a native  of  the  State 
of  Rhode  Island,  who  died  on  the  19th  of  June,  1786,  late  Major  general  in 
the  service  of  the  United  States,  and  commander  of  their  army  in  the  Southern 
department. 

The  United  States  in  Congress  Assembled,  in  honor  of  his  patriotism,  valour, 
and  ability,  have  erected  this  Monument. 

The  monument  stands  today  at  Stanton  Square  in  Washington. 

The  policies  to  be  adopted  by  the  government  in  reference  to  the 
western  country  and  the  free  navigation  of  the  Mississippi  aroused  in- 
cessant debate.  Lee’s  real  position  in  reference  to  these  questions  is 
given  in  an  unpublished  letter  dated  October  28,  1786,  New  York,  to 
an  unknown  correspondent,  probably  Madison: 

My  conduct  in  the  affair  you  mention  has  been  uniformly  in  conformity  with 
my  colleague,  because  we  were  under  instructions  & because  any  opposition 
would  have  been  idle,  therefore  as  far  as  can  be  known,  I have  been  with  Mr- 
Henry  in  this  matter. 

Had  I not  been  fettered  with  instructions,  I certainly  between  you  & me, 
should  have  taken  a different  part.  These  instructions  ought  to  be  repealed — I 
am  so  convicted  of  the  policy  of  the  proposed  treaty  that  I am  clearly  of  opinion 
on  a fair  statement  of  facts  two  thirds  of  your  house  would  coincide  with  me 
in  sentiment,  at  the  same  time  I well  know  that  such  communications  will  be 
made  & insinuations  whispered  as  to  forbid  any  attempt  to  espouse  the  true 
interest  of  our  country  on  this  subject — not  only  the  interest  of  the  cisalpine 
Virginia  and  indeed  their  existence  as  a people  is  involved  in  the  politics  of  this 
question  but  the  true  interest  of  the  transalpine  country  also.  For  it  is  un- 


'Papers  No.  19,  II,  folio  513. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


251 


questionably  true  that  the  western  settlements  prosperity  depends  & ought  to 
depend  on  the  prosperity  of  the  atlantic  country  & grow  in  proportion  thereto 
— To  push  forward  the  infant  at  the  expence  of  the  parent  is  wrong — 

A few  weeks  later,  at  the  time  of  Shays’s  rebellion,  Harry  Lee  wrote 
his  brother  Richard  Bland: 

11  Nov.  86  N[ew]  York 

Now  for  politics — the  East  is  in  tumult,  the  dreadful  appeal  is  too  probable 
— preparations  are  making  by  the  Insurgents  with  assiduity — measures  are  also 
taken  by  government  lately  with  decision  & firmness — It  is  suggested  that 
Vermont  & British  America  soften  the  madness  of  the  malcontents  by  their 
councils  and  promises — Whether  we  shall  conquer  this  effort  or  whether  it 
will  conquer  us,  depends  on  the  pecuniary  aid  of  the  tranquil  states — It  is  cer- 
tain if  Massachusetts  yeilds,  that  the  victors  will  extend  their  conquest,  & very 
destructive  consequences  will  pervade  from  that  victory  the  whole  empire- 
be  [ ?]  mob  government  for  a time,  which  will  terminate  in  despotism  among 
ourselves  or  from  abroad — 

I rejoice  in  your  decided  overthrow  of  paper — To  be  sure  the  expedient  of 
nominal  money  is  getting  so  [ ?]  ridiculous  that  common  sense  begins  to  abhor 
it  & therefore  the  vote  of  the  delegates  of  Virginia  is  not  surprizing — still  it  is 
grateful  & will  be  I hope  nationally  useful. 

In  a let.r  of  the  date  of  your  last  let.r  Madison  tells  me  that  my  congressional 
conduct  relative  to  the  Mississippi  navigation,  or  rather  the  proposed  treaty 
with  Spain  is  carped  at.  I cannot  brook  the  dishonor,  which  he  suggests  may 
befall,  me,  altho  my  intended  & wished  for  return  home  invites  the  disgrace. 

A community  ought  to  be  tender  of  the  reputation  of  her  servants,  I expected 
delicacy  as  well  as  justice  from  my  country,  or  I never  would  have  risked  a 
Reputation  dearer  to  me,  than  life  on  the  precarious  tenure  of  a democratic 
assembly.  If  I am  deceivd  I must  submit,  but  my  submission  will  be  bottomed 
on  necessity,  not  on  respect  to  her  caprices — nor  will  I forgive  the  authors  of 
the  assassination,  or  forget  every  proper  moment  if  announcing  my  remem- 
brance. It  is  wonderful  that  you  should  have  been  silent  on  this  head — It 
proves  their  cunning  & your  lethargy — 

Turberville  writes  two  letters  to  me  & says  nothing  on  the  subject — 

I hope  imaginary  doctrines  & western  prejudices  will  not  govern  the  votes 
of  my  country — If  they  do,  we  shall  suffer  bitterly,  but  our  sufferings  will  not 
be  long,  for  full  information  will  put  all  things  right. 

Farewel.  H.  Lee  Junr 

Not  until  December  of  1786  did  the  Lee  family  come  back  to 
Stratford.  They  drove  overland  in  the  midst  of  severe  snowstorms.  Col- 
onel Harry  wrote  his  brother  Richard  Bland  Lee: 

"My  dear  Matilda  & my  young  Heir  experienced  every  hardship 
from  roads  & weather  for  three  weeks  which  time  was  taken  up  to  reach 
Alexandria  from  New  York,  & we  were  all  in  an  act  of  being  buryed  in 
the  waters  of  potomac — a noble  burying  ground.” 


252  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

The  following  May,  Matilda’s  fourth  child — a son — was  born  and 
named  for  his  father.  He  was  the  fourth  Henry  in  the  family. 

Probably  to  his  surprise,  Colonel  Harry  was  reelected  to  Congress 
for  the  session  of  1787.  Sometime  during  that  summer  Matilda  again 
made  the  long  journey  to  New  York  with  her  babies,  leaving  Philip, 
their  eldest  son,  in  care  of  the  housekeeper  at  Stratford.  He  is  mentioned 
by  his  cousin  Lucinda  Lee  in  her  journal  of  a Young  Lady  of  Virginia: 

"We  brought  to  Chantilly  Col°  H.  Lee’s  little  Boy.  He  has  stayed  at 
Stratford  since  his  Papa  and  Mama  went  to  New  York.  I assure  you  he 
is  a very  line  child.” 

An  amusing  reference  to  the  family  in  New  York  is  made  by  their 
bachelor  kinsman,  Arthur  Lee,  in  a letter  to  the  Shippens.  Arthur  ap- 
parently does  not  relish  visiting  where  babies  and  politics  are  combined: 

".  . .1  presume  you  were  all  very  happy  at  Whitehill  & [illegible] 
above  all  who  had  the  happiness  of  hearing  calamitous  disappointments, 
vexation  — torment  — torture  — [illegible]  — , Matilda  crying,  Nancv 
pouting — Harry  Lee  ranting — delightful  group  for  a social  party..  . ,”10 

After  Congress  adjourned  and  the  family  returned  to  Stratford,  Ma- 
tilda’s mother  and  sister  visited  them  for  the  winter.  Flora  was  engaged 
to  be  married  to  her  first  cousin,  Ludwell  Lee  of  Chantilly,  and  the  wed- 
ding was  to  take  place  at  Stratford  in  January,  1788.  From  the  descrip- 
tion of  Flora  given  by  her  cousin,  Lucinda  Lee,  in  the  journal  of  a 
Young  Lady  of  Virginia,  she  was  far  from  being  as  beautiful  or  at- 
tractive as  Matilda: 

Well,  my  dear,  they  are  come,  and,  as  I expected,  brought  Flora  with  them. 
She  is  very  genteal,  and  wears  monstrous  Bustles.  Her  face  is  just  as  it  always 
was.  You,  my  dearest,  that  posses  a great  deal  of  Sencibility,  would  have  sup- 
posed she  would  have  been  delighted  to  see  me — far  from  it,  I assure  you.  She 
saluted  me  just  as  if  I had  been  a common  acquaintance,  and  was  not.  I thought, 
at  all  glad  to  see  me;  but  I suppose  it  is  fashionable  to  affect  indifference.  I 
hope,  my  dearest,  we  shall  always  stear  clear  of  such  unnatural  Fashions.  She 
received  Nancy  in  the  same  manner.  . . . 

The  records  of  this  fifth  generation  of  the  Lees  show  an  odd  sequence 
of  marriages,  connecting  their  family  with  that  of  the  family  Wash- 
ington. The  Washingtons  of  Bushfield,  the  beautiful  country  seat  just 
below  Chantilly,  were  intimates  of  all  the  Lee  households  of  Westmore- 
land and  Prince  William.  Young  Bushrod  Washington,  the  general’s 
favorite  nephew  and  heir  of  Mount  Vernon,  received  his  elementary 
education  at  Chantilly  under  the  same  tutors  who  instructed  the  sons 
of  Richard  Henry  Lee.  In  later  years  when  he  studied  law  in  Philadel- 


10Shippen  Papers.  Lloyd  P.  Shippen. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


253 


phia,  he  worshipped  at  the  shrine  of  Alice  Lee’s  daughter,  Nancy  Ship- 
pen.  Mildred  Washington,  his  only  sister,  married  Richard  Henry  Lee’s 
eldest  son,  Thomas  Ludwell  Lee,  and  they  lived  at  Park  Gate  in  Prince 
William  County,  not  far  from  Leesylvania.  Richard  Henry’s  daughter, 
Mary,  married  Colonel  William  Augustine  Washington.  His  younger 
daughter,  Nancy,  became  the  wife  of  Colonel  Harry’s  brother,  Charles 
Lee,  attorney  general  in  the  cabinets  of  Washington  and  Adams. 
Another  daughter  of  Chantilly,  Sarah  Lee,  married  her  cousin,  Edmund 
Jennings  Lee,  who  was  also  a brother  of  Colonel  Harry.  Mount  Vernon 
and  Bushfield  became  more  closely  linked  than  ever  with  Stratford, 
Chantilly,  and  Leesylvania  when  Richard  Henry’s  daughter  Hannah 
married  Corbin  Washington  of  Walnut  Hill  and  their  son,  John  Augus- 
tine Washington,  succeeded  Bushrod  as  the  owner  of  Mount  Vernon. 
By  many  of  the  Lees  it  was  considered  that  Mount  Vernon  was  but  re- 
verting to  its  original  Lee  ownership  when  the  grandson  of  Richard 
Henry  became  its  proprietor. 

Ludwell  Lee,  whom  Flora  married,  was  the  second  son  of  Richard 
Henry  and  Anne  Aylett  Lee.  He  was  born  on  October  13,  1760.  After 
several  years  of  home  instruction  he  was  sent  with  his  older  brother 
Thomas  to  school  in  England.  He  returned  to  Virginia  during  the 
Revolution  and  served  as  an  aid  to  Lafayette.  After  the  war  he  studied 
law  at  the  College  of  William  and  Mary,  about  the  same  time  his  Phila- 
delphia cousin,  Tom  Shippen,  was  a student  there,  under  Chancellor 
Wythe.  Later  he  was  elected  to  the  Virginia  legislature. 

January  23,  1788  was  the  date  of  his  marriage  to  Flora,  co-heiress 
with  Matilda  of  Stratford.  This  was  the  third  family  wedding  to  take 
place  in  the  Great  House. 

Flora  and  Ludwell  established  their  home  near  Alexandria,  where 
they  built  a house  on  the  crest  of  Shuter’s  Hill.  A lofty  pile  of  masonry, 
the  Masonic  Memorial  to  Washington,  today  stands  on  the  site  of  their 
home  and  over  the  unmarked  graves  of  both  Flora  and  Nancy  Lee,  wife 
of  Attorney  General  Charles  Lee.  In  later  years  Ludwell  moved  to 
Loudoun  County  and  built  the  stately  Georgian  house  near  Leesburg 
commemorating  Portia’s  estate  in  its  name,  Belmont.11 

3 

With  the  coming  of  June,  1788,  Harry  Lee  was  in  attendance  as  a 
delegate  to  the  Virginia  Convention,  called  in  Richmond  to  ratify  the 
Constitution  of  the  United  States.  The  leading  men  of  Virginia’s  ju- 

uBelmont  is  in  its  original  state  today  and  is  the  home  of  the  former  Secretary  of  War,  Pat- 
rick Hurley,  and  Mrs.  Hurley. 


Nancy  Lee  (Mrs.  Charles  Lee),  daughter  of  Richard  Henry  Lee:  from  the  original  portrait 
by  Sully,  now  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  foseph  Packard. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


255 


diciary  were  there  with  those  of  the  political  world  of  that  day,  among 
them:  John  Marshall,  James  Madison,  Bushrod  Washington,  George 
Wythe,  John  Randolph,  Benjamin  Harrison,  William  Cabell,  Edmund 
Pendleton,  Patrick  Henry,  and  George  Mason. 

The  stand  taken  by  Lee  for  ratification  would  in  itself  make  him  an 
outstanding  figure  in  the  nation’s  history  if  he  had  never  done  anything 
else.  It  is  recorded  word  for  word  in  the  minutes  of  the  convention.  Ex- 
cerpts and  running  comment  from  these  records  tell  a dramatic  story: 

Wednesday  June  5 . . . Lee  answers  opposition  to  the  Constitution  by  em- 
phasizing "the  necessity  of  coolly  and  calmly  to  examine  and  fairly  and  im- 
partially to  determine.”  He  objects  to  the  introduction  of  personalities,  especi- 
ally of  Washington;  advocates  that  the  Constitution  stand  "by  its  own  merit.” 
He  defends  the  expression  "We  the  people”  instead  of  We  the  States.”  He 
attributes  the  weakness  of  government,  the  economic  and  social  chaos  then 
prevailing  and  the  lack  of  American  prestige  abroad,  to  the  Articles,  and  closes 
with  the  expressed  conviction  that  the  Constitution  is  the  best  solution  for 
the  happiness  of  the  American  people. 

Monday,  June  9 . . . Lee  replies  to  Patrick  Henry  who  he  says  is  "throwing 
those  bolts,  which  he  has  so  peculiar  a dexterity  at  discharging,”  and  makes 
fun  of  "those  luminous  points  which  he  has  entertained  us  with”  in  his  "previ- 
ous harangues.”  Lee  defends  the  republicanism  of  the  friends  of  the  Consti- 
tution, the  militia  clause,  and  the  method  of  adoption  provided.  He  opposes 
tender  laws  as  worse  than  "Pandora’s  box,”  and  says  in  conclusion:  "The 
people  of  America,  sir,  are  one  people.  I love  the  people  of  the  north,  not 
because  they  have  adopted  the  constitution,  but  because  I fought  with  them 
as  my  countrymen,  and  because  I consider  them  as  such.  Does  it  follow  from 
hence  that  I have  forgotten  my  attachment  to  my  native  state?  In  all  local 
matters  I shall  be  a Virginian.  In  those  of  general  nature,  I shall  not  forget 
that  I am  an  American.” 

On  Wednesday,  June  11  . . .he  chides  Mason  for  "irregular  and  disorderly 
manner”  pointing  out  that  "ridicule  is  not  the  test  of  truth”  and  that  he  "that 
can  raise  the  loudest  laugh  is  [not]  the  soundest  reasoner.” 

Thursday,  June  12  . . Lee  defends  his  record  in  Congress  with  the  Jay- 
Gardoqui  negotiations  relative  to  the  opening  of  the  Mississippi.  Saturday, 
June  14  . . . He  points  out  contradictory  arguments  of  the  antiratificationists. 
Monday,  June  23  Lee  makes  his  last  speech,  closing  with:  "Then,  sir,  I pray 
you  remember,  and  the  gentlemen  in  opposition  not  to  forget,  that  should  these 
impious  scenes  commence,  which  my  honorable  friend  might  abhor,  and  which 
I execrate,  whence  and  how  they  begun.  God  of  Heaven  avert  from  my  country 
the  dreadful  curse;  but  if  the  madness  of  some,  and  the  vice  of  others,  should 
risk  the  awful  appeal,  I trust  the  friends  of  this  paper  on  your  table,  conscious 
of  the  justice  of  their  cause,  conscious  of  the  integrity  of  their  views,  and  recol- 
lecting their  uniform  moderation  will  meet  the  afflicting  call  with  that  firmness 
and  fortitude,  which  become  men  summoned  to  defend  what  they  conceive  to 
be  the  true  interest  of  their  country,  and  will  prove  to  the  world,  that  although 


256 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


they  boast  not  in  words  of  love  of  country,  and  affect  for  liberty,  still  they  are 
not  less  attached  to  these  invaluable  objects,  than  their  vaunting  opponents, 
and  can  with  alacrity  and  resignation  encounter  every  difficulty  and  danger  in 
defense  of  them.” 

While  Lee  did  not  speak  as  frequently  or  as  long  as  did  other  promi- 
nent men  in  the  Convention,  his  sincerity  of  conviction  and  his  steadfast- 
ness of  purpose  made  him  an  important  factor  in  helping  to  bring  about 
Virginia’s  ratification  of  the  Constitution. 

The  way  was  now  open  for  the  next  most  important  step  in  the  opera- 
tion of  the  Federal  Government,  the  election  of  its  first  president. 
When  the  Continental  Congress  convened,  Harry  Lee  was  present  and 
delivered  his  credentials  July  29,  1788.  As  the  summer  passed  without 
definite  or  constructive  action,  Lee  was  beside  himself  with  anxiety  for 
the  country’s  fate  and  with  impatience  over  the  futile  delays  and  end- 
less obstructions  to  definite  action.  Finally  he  could  hold  himself  in 
check  no  longer.  On  Friday,  September  12,  1788,  he  made  this  motion: 

Whereas  longer  delay  in  the  previous  arrangements  necessary  to  put  into 
operation  the  federal  government,  may  produce  national  injury,  Resolved,  That 
the  first  Wednesday  in  January  next,  be  the  time  for  appointing  the  electors  in 
the  several  states,  which  before  the  said  day  shall  have  ratified  the  said  con- 
stitution; and  that  the  first  Wednesday  in  February  next,  be  the  day  for  the 
electors  to  assemble  in  their  respective  states,  and  vote  for  a president;  and 
that  the  first  Wednesday  in  March  next,  be  the  time,  and  the  present  seat  of 
Congress,  the  place  for  commencing  proceedings  under  the  said  constitution. 
[This  motion  in  substantially  these  words  was  adopted  Sept.  13,  1788. J12 

Coincident  with  this  motion  Lee  wrote  to  General  Washington: 

. . . my  anxiety  is  extreme  that  the  new  government  may  have  an  auspicious 
beginning — To  effect  this  & perpetuate  a nation  formed  under  your  auspices, 
it  is  certain  that  again  you  will  be  called  forth.  The  same  principles  of  devo- 
tion to  the  good  of  mankind  which  has  invariably  governed  your  conduct,  will 
no  doubt  continue  to  rule  your  mind  however  opposite  the  consequences  may 
be,  to  your  repose  and  happiness.  Without  you  the  govt-  can  have  but  little 
chance  of  success,  & the  people  of  that  happiness  which  its  prosperity  must 
yield. 

Many  similar  letters  had  been  written  to  Washington.  Hamilton  and 
Madison  were  among  the  friends  who  had  long  pleaded  with  him  to 
accept  this  office.  But  he  had  been  reluctant.  Then  came  this  effectively 
phrased,  earnest,  and  sincere  appeal  from  his  brave  and  devoted  young 
subordinate  of  the  Revolution.  Was  it  this  plea  that  won  Washington’s 
consent  and  gave  the  nation  its  greatest  man  for  its  first  President?  It 
might  readily  have  been  so. 

12 The  Journals  of  the  American  Congress  from  1774  to  1788.  Vol.  4,  Washington,  1823,  p. 
865. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


257 


Before  the  adjournment  of  Congress,  Lee  took  part  in  other  con- 
structive measures.  He  urged  the  erection  of  the  necessary  public  build- 
ings for  the  accommodation  of  Congress  at  the  new  Federal  capital  on 
the  Potomac  at  Georgetown.  He  advocated  improvements  in  the  trans- 
portation of  mail.  His  interest  continued  in  building  up  "the  western 
territory”  and  in  providing  machinery  for  negotiating  treaties  and  the 
adjustment  of  differences  with  Indian  tribes. 

But  his  stand  for  the  ratification  of  the  Constitution,  as  well  as  cer- 
tain other  measures,  rendered  him  so  unpopular  with  his  constituents 
that  he  was  not  returned  to  Congress. 

Back  at  Stratford  Matilda’s  continued  ill  health  was  becoming  a 
source  of  desperate  concern  to  Colonel  Harry.  He  wrote  Richard  Henry 
that  Matilda  "continues  very  low  and  subject  to  fevers  every  now  and 
then,  difficulty  of  breathing  and  great  debility  of  body.  Our  invaluable 
Mrs.  Fendall  is  arrived  in  Baltimore.”  Matilda  was  dependent  on  her 
mother’s  solicitude  and  the  affection  which  she  returned. 

But  Matilda’s  mother  was  gravely  ill  and  the  voyage  from  Alexan- 
dria had  made  her  "too  weak  to  proceed  hither.  Mrs.  Lee  wishes  to 
go  and  see  her  mamma  & altho  I know  no  good  can  be  done  to  either  & 
some  injury  may  result  to  Mrs.  Lee  from  the  attempt  yet  I cannot  quiet 
her  frequent  uneasiness  only  by  commencing  the  trip.” 

Mrs.  Fendall  suffered  from  an  incurable  disease.  Colonel  Harry 
planned,  therefore,  to  take  Matilda  by  boat  to  Alexandria  to  ''our  best 
of  mothers.”  Suddenly  the  message  came  that  Mrs.  Fendall  was  dead. 
Matilda  was  prostrated  by  the  news.  After  the  funeral  she  was  ill  for 
many  weeks  and  her  husband  remained  in  Alexandria  with  her.  He 
wrote  James  Madison:  "You  have  heard  of  the  loss  we  have  met  with 
in  the  death  of  Mrs-  Fendall — better  for  her  to  be  sure  had  this  event 
taken  place  sooner  & altho’  we  are  convinced  of  this  truth  yet  our  afflic- 
tion is  immoderate.  Poor  Mrs-  Lee  is  particularly  injured  by  it,  as  the 
affliction  of  mind  adds  to  the  infirmity  of  her  body.  ...” 

Even  in  the  midst  of  his  family  anxieties  Colonel  Harry  was  not  too 
busy  to  be  of  service  to  his  hero,  Washington.  On  March  14,  1789,  he 
wrote  from  Alexandria: 

My  dear  General. 

I shall  leave  your  deed  with  Mr.  C Lee,  after  having  procured  the  most  prob- 
able attendants  on  the  general  court,  to  witness  it  (of  which  he  will  be  one) . 

As  the  hour  is  at  hand,  when  you  must  again  leave  your  country  & my  de- 
parture this  evening  or  tomorrow  prevents  my  bidding  you  adieu  in  person,  I 
beg  leave  now  to  offer  my  most  sincere  wishes  for  the  continuation  of  your 


258 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


health  and  for  prosperity  to  your  administration  of  the  general  govt- 

It  seems  decreed  by  fate  that  you  should  be  our  Numa  as  well  as  our  Romulus 
— Certainly  great  difficulty3  lay  in  your  way  but  they  will  diminish  I trust,  as 
they  are  approached. 

Our  nation  may  be  made  happy  & respectable,  supported  as  you  will  be  by 
the  sincere  affection  & high  confidence  of  the  body  of  the  people,  I anticipate 
with  delight  our  approaching  felicity  and  your  new  glory — They  are  entwined 
together,  & I hope  will  never  be  cut  asunder. 

It  would  be  arrogant  in  me  to  make  a tender  of  my  services  on  this  occasion, 
and  nothing  but  the  unalterable  respect  and  attachment  which  I feel  towards 
you,  would  induce  me  to  mention  it. 

Sincere  and  invariable  in  these  sentiments,  it  will  afford  me  great  satisfaction 
to  manifest  whenever  I can  be  useful  how  much  I admire  your  character  & 
how  truely  I am  devoted  to  the  promotion  of  the  common  weal. 

Mr3  Lee  begs  me  to  make  her  respects  to  Mr3  Washington  and  again  to  ex- 
press the  weight  of  gratitude  she  feels  for  the  friendly  attention  she  has  been 
pleased  to  honor  her  with,  during  her  confinement  here. 

I am  my  dear  general 
always  & truely,  your  friend 
& ob  t serv.t 


Henry  Lee.13 

Gen.1  Washington 

Washington  replied  instantly  and  in  a tone  of  unusual  warmth  and 
affection: 


Mount  Vernon,  March  14th,  1789- 

[Col.  H.  Lee] 

My  Dear  Sir — Your  letter  of  this  date,  was  put  into  my  hands  on  my  return 
from  a ride,  at  the  moment  dinner  was  waiting,  for  which  reason  I have  only 
time  to  express  in  a single  word  my  love  and  thanks  for  the  sentiments  con- 
tained in  it;  and  to  assure  you  that  my  best  wishes,  in  which  Mrs.  Washington 
unites,  are  presented  to  Mrs.  Lee,  and  that  with  sincere  regard  and  affection, 

I am  ever  yours, 

Geo.  Washington.14 

P.S.  If  we  have  any  thing  which  can  be  of  service  to  Mrs.  Lee,  on  her  passage, 
please  to  command  it. 

With  the  passing  of  summer  and  winter  Matilda’s  condition  showed 
no  improvement.  Cancelling  all  his  business  and  political  projects, 
Colonel  Harry  devoted  himself  to  her  care.  He  decided  to  try  the  waters 
of  medicinal  springs  in  western  Virginia.  In  a letter  to  Madison  from 
Stratford,  March  4,  1790,  shortly  before  they  set  out  on  the  long  jour- 
ney, he  said,  "Mrs.  Lee’s  health  is  worse  and  worse,  I begin  to  fear  the 
worst.  She  begs  you  would  present  her  most  affecy-  to  her  friends  Mrs. 


"Papers  of  George  Washington,  Doc.  73,  Vol.  242,  Library  of  Congress. 
uThe  Campaign  of  1781  in  the  Carolina Lee,  H.  Appendix  XLIV. 


THE  THIRD  MASTER  OF  STRATFORD 


259 


Colden  and  Hamilton  and  unites  with  me  in  best  wishes  for  your  health 
and  happiness.” 

But  the  waters  could  not  cure  Matilda,  and  Colonel  Harry  brought 
her  home  again  to  Stratford.  On  June  12,  1790,  he  wrote  to  Washing- 
ton, "My  long  afflicted  Mrs.  Lee  is  now  very  ill  & I fear  cannot  be 
preserved — ” 

Grievously  ill  though  she  was,  Matilda  was  aroused  by  the  confusion 
of  her  husband’s  finances  to  the  necessity  of  preserving  Stratford  and 
certain  other  estates  for  their  children.  It  was  undoubtedly  at  her  sug- 
gestion that  on  August  10,  1790,  the  following  deed  of  trust  was  made: 

Between  Henry  Lee  of  Stratford,  Esq.  and  Matilda  his  wife  of  the  first  part, 
Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  Henry  Lee,  and  Lucy  Grymes  Lee,  children  of  said  Henry 
and  Matilda  his  wife  of  the  second  part  and  Richard  Bland  Lee  and  Ludwell 
Lee,  Esq.  of  the  third  part,  the  said  Henry  Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  for  con- 
sideration in  the  said  Indenture  mentioned  did  by  the  said  Indenture  Bargain 
and  Sell  unto  Richard  Bland  Lee  and  Ludwell  Lee  and  their  heirs  all  the  land 
and  property  of  the  said  Henry  Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  situated  lying  and 
being  in  the  County  of  Westmoreland  known  by  the  name  of  Stratford  tract, 
the  upper  and  lower  Cliffs  and  also  the  land  the  property  of  the  said  Henry 
Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  lying  in  the  County  of  Lairfax,  &c.  ...  to  the 
said  Richard  Bland  Lee  and  Ludwell  Lee  and  their  heirs  in  trust  for  such  uses 
intent  and  purposes  and  with  and  under  such  provision  and  agreement  as  in  the 
aforesaid  Indenture  are  compressed — that  is  to  say  to  the  use  and  behoof  of 
the  said  Henry  Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  for  and  during  their  natural  life  and 
the  life  of  the  longest  liver  of  them  after  their  decease  then  the  said  land  in  the 
County  of  Westmoreland  and  known  by  the  name  of  Stratford  tract  the  upper 
and  lower  cliffs  &c.  to  the  use  of  the  said  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  the  eldest  son  of 
the  said  Henry  and  Matilda  his  wife  and  his  heirs  and  the  land  in  the  County 
of  Loudown  known  by  the  name  of  sugar  Lands  plantation  to  the  use  of  the 
said  Henry  Lee  youngest  son  of  the  said  Henry  Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  and 
his  heirs  and  it  was  further  proved  in  and  by  the  said  Indenture  that  if  either 
of  the  said  sons  should  die  without  issue  under  the  age  of  21  years  that  then 
and  in  that  case  the  lands  held  for  the  use  of  the  one  so  dying  should  be  to  the 
use  and  behoof  of  the  surviver  and  his  Heirs  and  if  both  should  die  under  age 
without  issue  then  the  said  lands  were  to  be  held  to  and  for  the  use  of  Lucy 
Grymes  Lee  daughter  of  the  said  Henry  Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  and  her  heirs 
forever  &c.  . . . 

Matilda’s  life  was  fast  ebbing.  Shortly  after  placing  her  name  on  this 
deed  of  trust,  she  died  at  Stratford  at  the  age  of  twenty-six.  Her  hus- 
band was  inconsolable.  This  "domestic  calamity,”  as  he  referred  to  it, 
was  the  first  real  personal  tragedy  of  his  life. 

His  friend,  General  Washington,  was  near  him  in  his  grief  as  he  was 
always  in  every  crisis  of  his  life.  Washington  wrote  him  from  New 
York,  August  27,  1790,  about  two  weeks  after  Matilda’s  death: 


260  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

It  is  unnecessary  to  assure  you  of  the  interest  I take  in  whatever  nearly  con- 
cerns you.  I therefore  very  sincerely  condole  with  you  on  your  late,  and  great 
losses;  but  as  the  ways  of  Providence  are  as  inscrutable  as  just,  it  becomes  the 
children  of  it  to  submit  with  resignation  and  fortitude  to  its  decrees  as  far  as 
the  feelings  of  humanity  will  allow,  and  your  good  sense  will,  I am  persuaded, 
enable  you  to  do  this.  Mrs.  Washington  joins  me  in  these  sentiments  and 
with  great  esteem  and  regard,  I am,  my  dear  Sir,  etc. 

From  Lee’s  notation  on  this  letter,  "The  death  of  my  wife  and  son,”  it 
would  appear  that  Matilda  died  in  giving  birth  to  her  fifth  child,  who 
did  not  survive  her.  In  the  family  burial  ground  at  Stratford  bevond  the 
east  wing  of  the  mansion,  across  the  broad  expanse  of  the  fragrant  gar- 
dens, Harry  Lee  built  the  vault  in  which  he  buried  his  beloved  wife. 


BOOK  THREE 
A CENTURY  OF  CHANGE 
(1790-  1890) 


CHAPTER  XIII:  CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE 
COMMONWEALTH 


1 

LATE  in  the  fall  of  that  desolate  year,  1790,  when  Harry  Lee  re- 
turned to  Richmond  as  a member  of  the  Assembly,  he  was  made 
4 leader  of  the  lower  house  and  chairman  of  the  important  Com- 
mittee of  Propositions  and  Grievances.  With  many  other  Virginians, 
he  was  beginning  to  feel  that  the  interests  of  Virginia,  her  self-respect 
as  a state,  and  her  political  and  economic  fibre,  and  indeed  that  of  the 
entire  South,  were  being  jeopardized  by  a misinterpretation  of  the  Con- 
stitution. As  its  provisions  were  translated  by  the  Northern  majority  and 
put  into  actual  operation,  they  were,  he  thought,  proving  to  be  inimical 
to  the  South.  In  his  frequent  letters  to  James  Madison  throughout  that 
year,  Lee  spoke  freely  what  was  in  his  mind: 

. . . [Patrick]  Henry  already  is  considered  as  a prophet,  his  predictions  are 
daily  verifying.  His  declaration  with  respect  to  the  division  of  interest  which 
would  exist  under  the  Constitution  and  predominate  in  all  the  doings  of  the 
govr-  already  has  been  undeniably  proved.  But  we  are  committed  and  we  cannot 
be  releived  I fear  only  by  disunion.  To  disunite  is  dreadful  to  my  mind,  but 
dreadful  as  it  is,  I consider  it  a lesser  evil  than  union  on  the  present  conditions. 
I had  rather  myself  submit  to  all  the  hazards  of  war  and  risk  the  loss  of 
everything  dear  to  me  in  life,  than  to  live  under  the  rule  of  a fixed  insolent 
northern  majority.  At  present  this  is  the  case,  nor  do  I see  any  prospect  of 
alteration  or  alleviation. 

Change  of  the  seat  of  govt-  to  the  territorial  center,  direct  taxation  and  the 
abolition  of  gambling  systems  of  finance  might  and  would  effect  a material 
change.  But  these  suggestions  are  vain  and  idle.  No  policy  will  be  adopted 
by  Congress  which  does  not  more  or  less  tend  to  depress  the  South  and  exalt 
the  North.  I have  heard  it  asserted  that  your  vice  president  should  say  the 
Southern  people  were  found  by  nature  to  subserve  the  convenience  and  inter- 
ests of  the  North — or  in  plain  words  to  be  slaves  to  the  North — very  soon  will 
his  assertion  be  thoroughly  exemplified.  How  do  you  feel,  what  do  you  think, 
is  your  love  for  the  Constitution  so  ardent,  as  to  induce  you  to  adhere  to  it  tho 
it  should  produce  ruin  to  your  native  Country — I hope  not,  I believe  not.  . . . 

When  Madison  inquired  what  Lee  thought  the  attitude  of  Virginians 
was  toward  the  general  government,  Colonel  Harry  replied: 

I am  not  interested,  only  in  common  with  my  fellow  citizens,  and  individually 
I care  not  what  fiscal  policy  is  pursued.  1 cannot  give  you  any  opinion  with 
tolerable  precision  on  the  feelings  of  our  people  towards  the  general  gov- 
ernment. Living  in  a very  retired  part  of  the  country  and  mixing  only  with  a 
few  neighbours  I have  little  opportunity  of  knowing  the  general  mind. 

While  on  the  last  session  of  Assembly,  I was  impressed  with  a belief  that 
the  enmity  was  rather  encreasing  than  otherwise.  The  debates  of  your  house 
during  this  session,  I have  not  seen  on  any  subject  but  have  heard  that  as  far 

[263] 


264  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

as  your  intentions  have  been  discovered  they  are  not  esteemed  on  this  side 
of  the  Potomac.  It  seems  to  me  that  you  must  introduce  real  taxation  and  bring 
the  seat  of  Govt,  near  the  center  of  territory,  or  we  Southern  people  must  be 
slaves  in  effect,  or  cut  the  Gordian  Knot  at  once.  By  these  two  measures  we 
shall  be  greatly  assisted  and  may  be  able  to  bear  up,  till  our  encrease  in  inhabit- 
ants may  place  us  nearer  equality.  . . . 

In  another  letter  to  Madison,  Lee  said: 

. . . This  government  which  we  both  admired  so  much  will  I fear  prove 
ruinous  in  its  operation  to  our  native  State.  Nothing  as  I said  in  my  letr-  the 
other  day  can  alleviate  our  sufferings  but  the  establishment  of  the  permanent 
seat  near  the  center  of  territory  & direct  taxation.  . . . 

The  position  taken  some  time  before  by  Richard  Henry  Lee  and  the 
minority  group  opposing  the  Constitution  as  originally  framed  was  once 
more  in  the  minds  of  all  Virginians.  Had  Richard  Henry  Lee  been 
right?  Many  thought  that  he  was.  Report  of  the  change  in  Harry  Lee’s 
views  and  ideas  circulated  throughout  the  state  and  his  stand  was  widely 
acclaimed.  Already  he  stood  in  the  nation’s  eye  among  the  first  of  the 
younger  statesmen.  He  was  a member  of  Congress.  He  was  known  to 
be  an  intimate  friend  of  Washington.  He  had  upheld  ratification  of  the 
Constitution  and,  as  a delegate  to  the  Virginia  Constitutional  Conven- 
tion, he  had  delivered  speeches  that  made  him  a national  figure. 

His  new  attitude  toward  state  rights  gave  rise  to  a widespread  con- 
fidence in  Virginia.  The  people  felt  that  he  would  prove  a bulwark 
against  Northern  aggression.  He  was  constantly  on  guard  against  "un- 
due influence  [from  the  North]  or  a latent  design  inimical  to  the  in- 
tention and  true  spirit  of  the  Constitution.”  As  he  wrote  Madison,  he 
was  ready  to  take  up  his  sword  in  behalf  of  his  state. 

In  the  ten  years  that  had  intervened  since  the  surrender  of  Cornwallis 
at  Yorktown,  the  memory  of  this  and  of  his  other  valorous  exploits,  both 
as  Lee  of  the  Light-Horse  and  Lee  of  the  Legion,  gathered  weight.  His 
military  record  was  tinged  with  high  adventure,  color  and  romance. 
Harry  Lee  was  one  of  Virginia’s  great  heroes  of  the  Revolution.  This 
was  remembered  now  as  it  had  never  been  before.  Lee  was  offered  the 
highest  honor  Virginia  could  bestow,  the  office  of  Governor. 

During  the  first  week  of  November,  1791,  a committee  of  the  Vir- 
ginia Assembly  waited  on  Harry  Lee;  and  the  chairman  said: 

Sir,  we  are  appointed  by  the  General  Assembly  to  notify  you  of  your  elec- 
tion to  the  office  of  Chief  Magistrate  of  this  Commonwealth.  We  feel  peculiar 
pleasure  in  conveying  this  information  to  you,  a pleasure  resulting  as  well 
from  our  personal  respect  and  regard  for  you  as  from  this  reflection, 

That  whilst  the  General  Assembly  have  consulted  the  welfare  and  dignity 
of  the  Commonwealth  in  conferring  to  you  this  distinguished  honor,  they 


Henry  Lee,  Governor  of  Virginia:  from  the  original  portrait  by  Saint-Memin. 


266  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

have  acknowledged  at  the  same  time  and  in  the  fullest  manner  the  high  sense 
which  they  entertain  of  you  as  a soldier  and  as  a citizen. 

In  accepting  the  office,  Lee  said: 

I receive  with  humility  and  with  gratitude  the  distinguished  honor  conferred 
upon  me;  to  my  mind  invaluable  because  it  conveys  the  strongest  testimony  of 
affection  and  confidence  of  the  country.  . . . Accept,  Gentlemen,  my  acknowl- 
edgments for  the  obliging  manner  in  which  you  have  communicated  my  ap- 
pointment and  permit  me  to  declare  that  my  heart  returns  with  sincerity  the 
sentiments  of  personal  respect  and  regard  with  which  you  have  been  pleased 
to  honor  me. 

When  Virginia  was  a Colony,  just  such  an  honor  had  been  received  by 
another  master  of  Stratford — its  builder,  Thomas  Lee.  It  had  come  to 
him  at  a time  when  he,  too,  was  bowed  down  in  sorrow  over  the  death 
of  his  wife.  Harry  Lee,  enduring  a similar  loss,  now  entered  upon  his 
first  term  as  Chief  Magistrate  of  the  Commonwealth  of  Virginia,  an 
office  to  which  he  was  to  be  twice  reelected.  So  high  was  he  in  the 
regard  of  Virginians  that  he  was  even  spoken  of  as  a possible  successor 
to  President  Washington. 

From  Stratford  Colonel  Harry  moved  to  the  Governor’s  Mansion  in 
Richmond,  bringing  his  children,  Philip,  Lucy,  and  Henry,  the  servants 
they  would  require,  equipages  and  horses.  The  family  had  been  in 
Richmond  but  a little  over  a year  when,  during  1792,  the  duties  of  the 
governor’s  office  necessitated  a trip  to  the  border.  Western  Virginia 
was  a frontier  region  and  communication  with  eastern  points  almost  im- 
possible. Only  when  Colonel  Harry  returned  to  Richmond  some  weeks 
later — the  date  is  not  recorded — he  learned  that  Philip  had  died. 

In  a letter  to  Madison  he  describes  this  "domestic  calamity  which  stirs 
me  to  the  quick.  . . .Iam  still  depressed  in  my  mind  and  continue  to 
be  the  subject  of  unavailing  woe.  My  son  on  whom  I chiefly  rested  for 
future  comfort  was  suddenly  deprived  of  life  during  my  absence,  which 
event  on  the  back  of  what  took  place  two  years  past  has  removed  me  far 
from  the  happy  enjoyment  of  life.” 

Philip — heir  of  Stratford — was  the  third  Philip  Ludwell  Lee  of  the 
family.  Of  his  three  children,  Philip  was  Colonel  Harry’s  favorite.  The 
boy  evidently  resembled  his  mother,  the  Divine  Matilda.  In  the  minia- 
ture that  survives,  the  face  is  delicate  oval,  the  eyes  and  hair  dark.  There 
is  a haunting  quality  of  sweetness  in  the  child’s  expression.  Members  of 
the  family  say  the  miniature  was  never  out  of  Colonel  Harry’s  possession 
until  he  left  the  United  States  for  the  West  Indies.1 

1This  miniature  is  owned  by  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee’s  great-granddaughter,  Mrs.  Hugh 
Antrim  of  Richmond,  Virginia. 


The  third  Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  heir  of  Stratford : from  the  original  miniature. 


268  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Another  year  passed  by.  Colonel  Harry  was  reelected  to  the  office  of 
Chief  Magistrate  of  Virginia. 

2 

Shirley-on-the-James  was  the  home  of  Ann  Hill  Carter: 

. . . dear  Shirley.  . . . that  then,  new  seat  of  the  Old  Carters  was  the  scene 
of  unbounded  hospitality  & polished  gaiety.  Not  only  the  new  dwelling  house, 
but  the  old  Hill  mansion,  & the  Laundry,  as  it  was  called  in  my  childhood 
(brick  building  of  two  stories,  & two  rooms  on  a floor,  & a passage  between 
them),  were  pressed  into  the  service  of  the  many  guests — sons  & daughters  & 
their  families — nephews  neices  & friends  at  propitious  seasons  filled  their 
capacities  to  the  utmost.  Of  course,  it  was  a great  place  for  the  exercises  of 
the  archery  of  "the  winged  and  quivered  boy,”  & the  sighs  of  his  victory  often 
filled  the  house  & the  garden  of  roses.  ... 2 

Nancy  Carter,  as  she  was  called  in  the  family,  was  Charles  Carter’s 
child  by  his  second  wife,  Ann  Butler  Moore  of  Chelsea,  great-grand- 
daughter of  Virginia’s  early  colonial  Governor  Alexander  Spotswood. 
Their  marriage  had  taken  place  between  1770  and  1771. 

Old  Corotoman,  the  ancestral  seat  of  the  Carters  on  the  Rappahan- 
nock River,  was  their  home.  As  far  back  as  the  year  1650,  when  the  first 
settlement  of  Lancaster  County  was  made,  Charles  Carter’s  great-great- 
grandfather,  Colonel  John  Carter,  built  Corotoman.  He  came  from 
Hertfordshire,  England,  settled  in  Virginia  in  the  sixteen-forties  and 
was  a member  of  the  Assembly  from  Norfolk  County  at  the  time  the 
first  Richard  Lee  was  prominent  in  affairs  of  the  Colony.  After  John 
Carter  secured  a grant  to  several  thousand  acres  in  the  region  of  the 
Rappahannock  and  Corotoman  Rivers,  he  moved  to  Lancaster  County 
and  built  his  great  house  called  after  the  Corotoman,  a tributary  of  the 
Rappahannock.  He  represented  Lancaster  in  the  House  of  Burgesses. 
According  to  G.  W.  Beale: 

Colonel  Carter  was  a loyal  churchman,  and  interested  in  the  spiritual  welfare 
of  his  neighbors,  and  he  showed  his  interest  by  erecting  at  his  personal  expense, 
the  first  church  building  established  between  the  Rappahannock  and  the  Po- 
tomac. This  building  was  completed  about  the  year  1670,  and  called  Christ’s 
church.  It  became  before  its  completion  a monument  and  tomb  for  its  benevo- 
lent donor,  who,  having  died  on  June  10,  1669  was  interred  within  its  walls  "to 
the  east  of  the  chancel.”  Colonel  Carter  was  married  three  times.  . . . 

His  oldest  son,  Robert,  surnamed  "King,”  was  for  several  years  the  sole 
male  representative  of  the  family  [says  Mr.  Beale],  and  about  1680  entered 
into  the  occupancy  of  the  Corotoman  home.  He  had,  it  seems,  before  reach- 
ing his  majority,  sought  a wife  beyond  the  Rappahannock,  and  his  quest  had 
been  rewarded  in  securing  Judith,  the  eldest  daughter  of  John  Armistead,  Esq., 


description  by  Carter  Lee  of  the  girlhood  home  of  his  mother.  Ann  Hill  Carter. 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH 


269 


of  Hesse,  in  Gloucester,  whom  he  married  in  1678 Robert  Carter 

. . . was  conspicuously  active  with  business  affairs  and  public  responsibilities. 
He  was  one  of  the  early  solicitors  of  funds  for  the  erection  of  William  and 
Mary  College,  a leading  vestryman  of  Christ’s  church,  a member  of  the  House 
of  Burgesses,  and  for  six  years  its  Speaker,  acting  Governor  of  the  Colony,  in 
1727,  and  for  nearly  or  quite  a quarter  of  a century,  a member  of  the  King’s 
Council  for  Virginia.  In  1703  he  accepted  the  responsible  and  delicate  position 
of  attorney  and  agent  for  Thomas  Culpeper,  Lord  Proprietor  of  the  Northern 
Neck.  . . . 

In  1711  Robert  Carter,  supreme  in  colonial  affairs,  was  succeeded  in 
this  office  by  Thomas  Lee,  young  enough  to  be  his  grandson.  As  a result 
there  were  strained  relations  between  Carters  and  Lees  for  a long  period. 

King  Carter’s  landed  estates  embraced  more  than  300,000  acres  in 
various  parts  of  the  Colony.  He  had  over  a thousand  slaves.  "The  ampli- 
tude of  his  possessions,”  says  Beale,  "and  the  opulence  in  which  he  was 
able  to  live,  gained  for  him  among  his  contemporaries  the  soubriquet  of 
'King,’  his  claim  to  which,  it  would  seem,  successive  generations  have 
seemed  content  to  allow.” 

Robert  Carter  died  on  August  4,  1732,  leaving  fifteen  children  from 
his  two  marriages.  "The  sons  were  liberally  trained  at  William  and 
Mary  College,  or  in  England,  and  the  daughters  had  every  advantage 
the  educational  facilities  of  the  colony  afforded.  The  older  son,  John, 
became  Secretary  of  the  Colony,  and  held  this  office  so  long  that  the 
name  'Secretary’  became  permanently  attached  to  him.  He  married 
Elisabeth  Hill,  daughter  of  Sir  Edward  Hill  of  Shirley  on  the  James.”3 

Following  the  death  of  the  heir-at-law,  Corotoman  passed  into  the 
possession  of  Charles  Carter,  son  of  Secretary  (John)  Carter  and  Elisa- 
beth Hill.  In  1750  Charles  married  his  cousin,  Mary  Carter  of  Cleve. 
Twenty  years  later,  January  30,  1770,  her  death  occurred.  Not  long 
afterwards  Carter  married  Ann  Butler  Moore.  Their  daughter  Ann  Hill 
was  born  at  Corotoman  in  the  year  1773.  In  her  mingled  the  strains  of 
those  families  so  distinguished  in  the  colonial  history  of  Virginia:  Car- 
ter, Hill,  Moore,  and  Spotswood. 

Some  years  before  Charles  Carter’s  second  marriage,  his  mother  Elisa- 
beth Hill  Carter,  widow  of  Secretary  John  Carter,  had  married  Bowler 
Cocke  and  returned  to  live  at  her  girlhood  home,  Shirley  on  the  James, 
to  which  she  had  fallen  heir.  In  June,  1771,  she  died.  Two  months  later 
her  husband,  Bowler  Cocke,  also  died. 

3An  early  connection  with  the  Lees  was  established  when  Secretary  Carter’s  youngest  sister, 
Lucy,  married  Henry  Fitzhugh  of  Eagle’s  Nest,  the  son  of  William  Fitzhugh  and  his  wife,  Ann, 
only  sister  of  Thomas  Lee  of  Stratford. 


270  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

By  John  Carter’s  will,  his  son  Charles  inherited  Shirley.  But  the  heirs 
of  Bowler  Cocke  disputed  his  right  to  possession.  The  plantation  was 
not  awarded  Carter  until  December,  1772,  after  a complicated  law  suit. 
Charles  Carter  was  called  "Charles  Carter  of  Corotoman  and  of  Shir- 
ley.” He  represented  the  county  of  Lancaster  in  the  House  of  Burgesses 
and  also  continued  to  preside  regularly  as  justice  of  the  peace  in  that 
county  from  1772  to  October,  1775.  The  Lancaster  records  show  that  he 
continued  to  reside  at  Corotoman.  According  to  the  unpublished  diaries 
of  his  cousin,  Landon  Carter  of  Sabine  Hall,  and  also  from  other  docu- 
mentary sources,  Charles  Carter  was  living  at  Corotoman  until  he  moved 
to  Shirley  in  1776.  His  daughter,  Ann  Hill,  was  then  three  years  old.4 

Shirley,  on  the  north  bank  of  the  James  River,  in  Charles  City  County, 
was  about  thirty  miles  from  Richmond.  The  plantation,  comprising 
several  thousand  acres,  was  just  above  the  point  where  the  Appomattox 
River  flows  into  the  James.  Of  level  or  gently  undulating  character,  the 
land  lay  wide  open  to  the  sun.  The  original  Hill  mansion  was  built 
close  beside  the  river  in  this  pleasant  and  fruitful  wilderness  six  years 
after  Jamestown  was  founded.  The  original  house,  which  disappeared 
generations  ago,  stood  very  near  the  "new  dwelling  house”  which  Carter 
Lee  mentions,  and  was  probably  built  by  Charles  Carter  during  the  last 
quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century. 

Shirley  was  originally  the  property  of  Thomas  West,  Lord  Delaware, 
and  his  three  brothers.  Lyon  Gardiner  Tyler  says  the  house  was  first  oc- 
cupied in  1613,  when  Sir  Thomas  Dale  established  Bermuda  Hundred. 

It  was  called  originally  West-and-Sherley-Hundred.  . . . [In  1602]  Thomas 
West,  Lord  Delaware,  [had]  married  Cecilly,  daughter  of  Sir  Thomas  Sherley 
. . . [of  Whiston  England],  In  1664,  2,544  acres  at  Shirley  Hundred  were 
patented  by  Major  Edward  Hill,  Sr.,  a man  of  great  prominence  in  the  colony. 
The  land  was  inherited  by  his  son  Colonel  Edward  Hill,  Jr.,  who  left  a son, 
Colonel  Edward  Hill,  and  two  daughters,  Hannah  . . . and  Elisabeth,  who 
married  John  Carter,  secretary  of  state.  . . . Colonel  Edward  Hill,  third  of 
the  name,  died  in  1720  without  children,  and  Shirley  descended  to  his  sister 
Elisabeth  Carter,  and  has  since  remained  in  the  Carter  family.5 

The  young  English  woman  of  high  degree,  the  Lady  Cecilly  from 
whom  Shirley  derived  its  name,  may  have  lived  there  in  the  perilous 
years  following  the  settlement  at  Jamestown.  It  is  quite  possible  that 
she  did.  Shirley’s  next  owners,  Sir  Edward  Hill,  his  son  Edward,  and 
his  grandson,  also  named  Edward  Hill,  took  a leading  part  in  the  gov- 

4See  Supplementary  Records  for  documentary  material  proving  that  Corotoman  was  the  resi- 
dence of  Charles  Carter  from  1771  to  1776  and  the  birthplace  of  Ann  Hill  Carter. 

6 77m  Cradle  of  the  Republic,  by  Lyon  Gardiner  Tyler.  Richmond,  1906,  Hermitage  Press. 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH  271 

ernment  of  the  Colony,  each  in  his  generation,  precisely  as  the  Lees 
and  the  Carters  did.  They,  too,  were  closely  associated  with  those  other 
Old  Standers  of  James  City  and  Williamsburg,  the  six  progenitors  of  the 
Stratford  Lees:  Ludwell,  Lee,  Corbin,  Harrison,  Bland,  and  Jenings. 

"Four-square  to  the  world  and  three  stories  high,”  as  Swepson  Earle 
says  in  The  Chesapeake  Bay  Country,  Shirley  "stands  in  the  midst  of  a 
lawn  shaded  by  giant  oaks.  Rows  of  many-paned  dormer  windows  look 
out  from  all  four  sides  of  its  sloping  roof,  and  huge  chimneys  tower 
above  them.  To  the  rear  of  the  mansion  are  substantial  brick  outbuild- 
ings. At  one  side  lies  the  flower  garden  with  its  box  hedges,  old-fash- 
ioned roses  and  beds  of  sweet  lavender  and  mignonette,  while  the  front 
commands  a beautiful  view  of  the  river.” 

A large  wooden  pineapple,  symbol  of  welcome,  crowns  the  apex  of 
the  roof.  Two  spacious  dependencies,  formerly  in  line  with  the  main 
building,  have  disappeared,  although  two  other  original  outbuildings 
remain.  The  "new  dwelling  house”  of  the  late  eighteenth  century  has 
beauty  and  dignity  within  and  without.  The  rooms  are  richly  panelled 
and  have  lofty,  spacious  proportions  with  open  fireplaces  and  long, 
deep-seated  windows.  A "flying  staircase”  rises  from  the  entrance  hall 
to  the  second  floor. 

Like  King  Carter,  his  grandfather,  Charles  Carter  of  Corotoman  and 
Shirley,  also  had  a family  of  patriarchal  size — twenty-one  children  by 
his  two  marriages.  He  appears  to  have  been  exceptionally  devoted  to 
Nancy,  the  daughter  of  his  old  age.  So  was  she  to  him.  Judging  from 
letters  recently  coming  to  light,  her  early  life  was  exceedingly  happy  and 
harmonious. 

As  if  there  were  not  brothers  and  sisters  enough  to  serve  as  playmates 
and  companions  for  his  youngest  daughter,  Charles  Carter  invited  his 
great-nieces,  Betsy  and  Maria  Farley  of  Nesting,  to  visit  Shirley  so  fre- 
quently that  it  became  their  second  home.  These  "adopted  daughters” 
of  Shirley  were  about  Nancy’s  age.  Betsy  (Elizabeth  Carter  Byrd  Far- 
ley) was  a year  older,  Maria  Byrd  a year  younger.  Their  mother,  Elisa- 
beth Hill  Byrd  of  Westover,  was  the  daughter  of  Charles  Carter’s  only 
sister,  Elisabeth,  who  married  the  third  William  Byrd  of  Westover  on 
the  James.  This  marriage  united  the  houses  of  Shirley  and  Westover 
in  a permanent  bond  of  historic  association  and  family  relationship. 

When,  in  the  year  1771,  Elisabeth  Hill  Byrd  of  Westover  married 
John  Parke  Farley  of  Virginia  and  Antigua,  they  established  their 
home  on  a near-by  plantation  called  Nesting.  Their  two  daughters, 


272  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Betsy  and  Maria  Farley,  grew  up  there.  Thus  a third  family  household 
became  closely  knit  to  Westover  and  Shirley. 

The  three  cousins,  Nancy,  Betsy  and  Maria,  probably  shared  the  same 
governesses  and  dancing  and  music  masters.  Nancy,  who  was  gifted  in 
music,  sang,  and,  Tom  Shippen  says,  played  the  harpsichord  "very  agree- 
ably.” Surviving  letters  indicate  that  each  of  the  three  girls  received  the 
same  painstaking  instruction  in  English  grammar,  rhetoric,  spelling,  and 
punctuation  as  in  their  penmanship.  This  was  not  true  of  the  letters  of 
most  Virginia  girls  of  the  day.  As  they  grew  into  their  teens  in  the  de- 
lightful environment  of  their  three  James  River  homes,  each  one  of  the 
merry  cousins  was  a belle,  "a  beauty  & fortune.” 

Betsy  Farley  was  the  first  to  break  the  single  blessedness  of  the  trio. 
She  married  John  Bannister,  Jr.,  about  1788.  He  died  soon  after.  So  in 
a very  short  time  Betsy,  as  a beautiful  young  widow,  was  again  sharing 
with  Maria  and  Nancy  the  social  gaieties  of  the  James  River  houses  and 
the  attentions  of  the  beaux  of  Tidewater. 

About  this  time  Betsy  Farley  and  Tom  Shippen  of  Philadelphia  met 
one  another.  Tom,  a Lee  of  Stratford  on  his  mother’s  side,  was  an  im- 
pressionable youth.  He  fell  head  over  heels  in  love  with  Betsy,  and 
in  love  too,  afresh  with  Shirley,  one  of  the  several  country  seats  on 
James  River  he  had  long  known  and  to  which  he  had  always  been 
attached.  Ever  since  his  kinswoman  of  Philadelphia,  Mary  Willing, 
had  married  the  third  William  Byrd  of  Westover  after  the  death  of  his 
first  wife,  Elisabeth  Hill  Carter  of  Shirley,  both  Thomas  Lee  Shippen 
and  his  father,  Dr.  William  Shippen,  Jr.,  had  been  occasional  guests  at 
Westover  and  at  other  plantations  close  by.  So  endeared  to  him  were 
these  old  Virginia  homes  that  even  in  his  exciting  and  adventurous  years 
abroad  when  "taking  the  grand  tour,”  Tom  never  failed  to  cherish  them. 
In  a letter  to  his  father,  written  from  London  in  the  late  1780’s,  Tom 
said:  "When  you  write  say  to  the  houses  of  Westover,  Shirley,  Hundred 
& Meade,  how  do  ye  in  my  name.  I very  often  think  of  the  days  I 
passed  with  them — they  were  halcyon — They  are  still  more  so  in  retro- 
spect.”6 

Through  Tom  Shippen’s  notes  about  Nancy  Carter  and  through  a 
letter  of  Maria  Farley’s  son-in-law,  Samuel  Appleton  Storrow  of  Boston, 
many  events  of  Ann  Hill  Carter’s  youth  and  marriage  not  heretofore 
known  are  made  clear.  Thus,  curiously,  not  from  Virginia,  her  home, 


'Shippen  Papers. 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH  273 

but  from  Pennsylvania  and  Massachusetts  has  this  interesting  informa- 
tion come. 

On  November  27,  1790,  Tom  Shippen  said  in  a letter  from  Philadel- 
phia to  his  adored  Betsy  at  Shirley:  . . I am  a cousin  too,  and  an 

affectionate  one  to  Nancy  Carter,  and  love  her  independently  of  your 
attachment  to  her,  or  hers  to  you.  ...” 

January  1,  1791,  he  says  again  to  Betsy:  " . . .1  hope  you  have  passed 
a merry  Christmas — divided  perhaps  between  Nesting,  Westover  and 
Shirley  as  to  the  scene,  as  to  its  occupations  between  Duty,  Charity  and 
Mirth.”7 

What  a vivid  characterization  of  those  three  Virginia  homes!  And 
how  the  word  "Mirth”  pictures  Shirley  and  explains  why  all  the  young 
people  loved  it  so  and  always  loved  visiting  there! 

Betsy  Farley’s  wedding  to  Tom  Shippen  took  place  in  March,  1791,  at 
the  Farley  plantation,  Nesting — "Duty,”  as  named  by  Tom.  His  uncle 
Arthur  Lee  of  Stratford,  now  of  Lansdowne-on-the-Rappahannock,  was 
with  Tom  at  Nesting  for  the  days  of  festivity  preceding  the  wed- 
ding. On  March  3,  1791,  Tom  wrote  his  father  from  Nesting:  ".  . . 
We  dined  yesterday  at  Shirley  and  were  very  kindly  treated  by  Mr. 
Carter  and  his  family.  Col  Harrison  & Col  Walker  were  of  the  party. 
You  were  enquired  after  with  great  solicitude  as  you  have  been  at  every 
house  in  the  neighborhood — all  lamenting  the  disappointment  as  a great 
loss  which  they  all  have  sustained.  . . .”8 

Late  in  the  following  autumn  the  young  husband  was  again  in  Vir- 
ginia and  wrote  almost  daily  to  his  Betsy,  at  their  country  home  in 
Pennsylvania: 

"Nesting  Nov  9,  1791 

"Nov  10th  Good  morning  to  my  darling.  The  weather  is  so  bad  that 
we  cannot  go  to  Shirley  today  as  we  had  promised.  . . . We  had  a very 
agreeable  day  here  yesterday.  The  company  were  all  in  fine  spirits,  and 
we  were  merry  and  wise.  Nancy  Carter  was  handsomer  than  I ever  saw 
her,  your  Aunt  Walker  more  kind  an  affectionate.  . . . End  of  the  same 
day.  . . . The  weather  cleared  up  and  we  went  to  Shirley  where  we 
found  besides  those  we  had  expected,  Mr.  John  Page,  Miss  S.  Harrison, 
and  Miss  Lyons.  Nancy  played  several  pieces  of  musick  for  me  very 
agreeably  upon  her  new  harpsichord  and  talked  incessantly  of  you.  . . . 
The  girls  are  going  with  the  young  ladies  of  Shirley  and  Barclay  to 
Richmond  on  Monday  to  see  some  plays,  and  they  are  all  delighted  be- 


7Shippen  Papers,  Library  of  Congress,  Washington,  D.  C. 
*ldem. 


274  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

yond  measure  at  the  thought.  We  have  been  plaguing  Nancy  Carter  this 
day  or  two  with  a letter  supposed  to  have  been  addressed  to  her  by 
Frank  Walker  but  which  in  fact  is  the  production  of  W Kinloch’s  merry 
pen.  . . . ”9 

Again  he  wrote:  ".  . .We  had  a large  party  yesterday  at  Shirley..  . 

Another  day:  ".  . .1  shall  take  your  letter  today  to  Shirley  for  the 
amusement  of  your  friend  Nancy  Carter  who  I believe  loves  you  like  a 
sister.  You  see  how  proud  I am  of  your  letters  and  I beg  you  to  excuse 
my  vanity  in  sharing  them.  ...” 

On  October  28,  1791,  Tom  dutifully  delivered  to  Betsy  the  family 
gossip  that  is  the  breath  of  life  to  a Virginia  girl:  ”...  Has  the  report 
reached  you  of  our  sister  Maria’s  conquest?  It  is  confidently  reported 
that  the  Lord  of  Mount  Airy  is  supplicating  her  for  mercy — True  it  is 
that  he  has  broken  off  with  Miss  Lewis  and  that  he  has  assigne[d]  his 
passion  for  Maria  as  the  cause  of  his  infidelity.  Time  will  discover  all 
things — I think  Maria  is  not  violently  angry  with  the  supposition — He 
is  expected  at  Nesting  from  the  Annapolis  races  next  week  where  he 
has  been  all  triumphant  & victorious.” 

Then  in  November,  1791,  came  a brief  item  around  which,  un- 
known to  them  all,  revolved  the  future  destiny  of  their  beloved  Nancy 
Carter:  ” . . .You  will  have  heard  of  the  appointment  of  Col0  H Lee  to 
the  government  of  Virginia.  He  was  chosen  last  Wednesday  by  a great 
majority.  . . 

Of  Nancy  Carter  or  of  Harry  Lee,  Tom  Shippen  said  nothing  more. 
But  strange  to  relate,  thirty  years  later,  Colonel  Storrow  in  a letter  to  his 
sister  took  up  the  story  where  Tom  left  off.  The  stage  of  his  record  was  set 
in  what  was  probably  the  early  spring  of  1793,  two  years  after  Tom’s  rec- 
ord. Massachusetts  man  though  Storrow  was,  he  indulged  in  a "Prel- 
ude” of  comparisons  about  the  characteristics  of  the  ladies  of  his  wife’s 
native  heath.  He  says  in  this  letter:  ”...  Very  fine  women  (you  may 
doubt  me)  are  rather  rare  here.  Female  talent  has  generally  received  a 
wrong  direction.  I have  seen  many  a worn  out  Coquette,  many  a heart- 
less Belle  that  wanted  but  the  first  impulse  to  be  made  useful  and  happy. 
I have  heard  of  many  instances  of  rare  capacities — but  waste  followed 
possession  as  tho’  it  were  irresistable.  In  fact  it  may  have  been  so — So- 
ciety (that  of  Virginia,  I mean)  was  full  of  splendid  meteors:  if  a 
woman  had  been  inclined  to  pursue  a right  path  there  was  no  steady 
light  whereby  she  could  discern  it.  ...” 


1>Vol.  I,  Shippen  Letters,  Library  of  Congress,  Washington,  D.  C. 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH  275 

But  Nancy  Carter,  Storrow  goes  on  to  say,  "need  not  have  been  [born] 
in  Virginia  to  have  been  pronounced  excellent — there  is  no  circle — 
none  on  earth — in  which  she  would  not  be  an  ornament.  She  com- 
menced life  a spoiled  child — a beauty  & fortune.  . . .’’Of  Maria 
Farley  ( his  wife’s  mother) , he  says  that  she  too  "was  a beauty  & fortune 
in  her  day”;  that  Nancy  Carter  and  she  "were  pretty  much  brought  up 
together,”  Nancy  being  the  elder  by  a year. 

He  then  tells  the  amazing  story  that  "General  Lee,  at  that  time  at  the 
head  of  everything  in  Virginia,  was  in  love  (honestly,  they  say)  . . .” 
with  Maria  Farley.  "He  was  handsome,  of  splendid  talents,  & Governor 
of  the  State.”  Maria  Farley  was  living  at  Shirley  during  the  General’s 
suit  for  her  hand.  To  quote  Storrow  further:  "As  desperately  as  Gen- 
eral Lee  was  in  love  with  Miss  Farley  was  Miss  Carter  with  General 
Lee,  and  at  the  same  time  compelled  to  witness  his  devotion  to  another 
object.  His  repeated  visits  to  Miss  Farley  & utter  neglect  of  her  preyed 
upon  her  health,  but  drew  nothing  from  her  of  unkindness  to  her  fortu- 
nate Cousin,  & her  only  interference,  & that  against  herself,  was  when 
General  Lee  had  made  his  offer  & Miss  Farley  avowed  that  she  should 
reject  it — She  then  said  'O  stop,  stop,  Maria — You  do  not  know  what 
you  are  throwing  away.’  Maria  however,  persisted  in  throwing  it  away, 
& then  in  the  face  of  decency  & delicacy  he  [Governor  Lee]  made  an 
offer  to  her  [Nancy  Carter]  which  she  could  not  resist.  . . .”10 

3 

To  the  romantic  young  people  at  Shirley  the  visits  of  His  Excellency, 
the  Governor,  to  Maria  Farley  and  later  to  their  own  Nancy  Carter, 
must  have  been  a source  of  exhilarating  interest  and  curiosity.  Governor 
Lee  usually  came  to  Shirley  on  horseback.  His  saddle  mounts  were 
stout  and  swift.  He  rode  like  the  wind.  And  what  a superb  horseman 
he  was! 

Like  most  Virginia  girls,  as  much  at  home  in  the  paddock  as  in  the 
drawing-room,  Nancy  Carter  was  undoubtedly  impressed  by  "Mr.  Lee’s” 
expert  horsemanship.  She  loved  the  country,  the  good  times,  the  dances, 
music,  hunts,  company,  yet  she  appears  curiously  to  have  been  always 
somewhat  less  sophisticated  than  Betsy  and  Maria  Farley.  Beneath  the 
surface  she  took  life  seriously.  She  was  single-minded,  direct,  pro- 
foundly sincere,  and  a hero  worshipper. 

But  "Mr.  Lee,”  as  she  invariably  addressed  him,  or  "My  dearest  Mr. 

‘"Original  letter  dated  September  1,  1821,  Samuel  Appleton  Storrow  to  his  sister  in  Boston, 
presented  to  the  author  for  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Inc.,  November,  1933,  by 
Miss  Anne  Carter  Greene.  See  Supplementary  Records  for  letter  in  full. 


276  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Lee,”  as  she  said,  years  after  they  were  married,  was,  apparently,  the 
one  man  of  her  entire  life  whom  she  loved  and  honored,  to  whom  she 
"looked  up”  with  all  the  fervor  of  her  honest  and  unworldly-wise  soul. 

In  Storrow’s  letter  he  refers  to  Lee’s  turning  immediately  to  Nancy 
Carter  after  being  discarded  by  Maria,  and  making  her  an  offer  "in  the 
face  of  decency  & delicacy.”  Storrow  wrote  of  this  event  nearly  thirty 
years  after  it  happened.  Intervening  circumstances  and  details  are  not 
known.  Lee  had  been  infatuated  with  Maria  Farley;  he  was  not  in  love 
with  Nancy  Carter — not  at  first. 

Ann  was  seventeen  years  younger  than  her  "Mr.  Lee.”  She  had  a 
brunette  beauty,  with  olive  skin,  dark  hair  and  eyes.  "She  was  intense, 
loving  and  sweet.  Although  she  was  always  gentle,  she  was  firm,  very 
resolute  and  strong.”11 

During  1792  and  1793  Harry  Lee  was  turning  over  in  his  mind  the 
idea  of  going  to  revolutionary  France.  He  was  in  correspondence  with 
Lafayette  and  hoped  to  secure  a high  military  appointment  in  the  French 
Army.  Through  a source  he  does  not  mention,  in  a letter  to  Washington, 
April  29,  1793,  he  was  assured  that  a Major  General’s  commission 
would  be  given  him  as  soon  as  he  arrived  in  Paris.  Such  service  would 
be  what  he  most  desired  and  could  do  best.  Furthermore,  it  would  take 
him  far  away  from  Stratford  and  from  sorrow.  He  could  enter  upon  a 
new  life,  new  scenes,  be  with  new  people,  and  become  part  of  a great 
social  upheaval  with  the  philosophy  of  which  he  was  deeply  sympathetic. 

Lee  conferred  with  Washington,  as  he  always  did  upon  momentous 
questions: 

Bred  to  arms,  I have  always  since  my  domestic  calamity  wished  for  a return 
to  my  profession  as  the  best  resort  for  my  mind  in  its  affliction.  . . . I am  con- 
sequently solicitous  for  the  best  advice  and  this  I am  persuaded  you  can  give. 
Should  it  be  improper  on  your  part,  much  as  I want  it,  I must  relinquish  the 
hope.  But  as  your  opinion  to  me  will  never  be  known  but  to  myself  and  as  I 
ask  your  counsel  in  your  private  character,  I feel  a presumption  in  favor  of  my 
wishes. 

If  fair  war  on  terms  of  honor,  with  certainty  of  sustenance  to  the  troops,  and 
certainty  of  concert  among  the  citizens  will  & can  be  supported  by  France,  I 
will  embark.  If  the  reverse  in  any  part  is  probable,  to  go  would  be  the  com- 
pletion of  my  lot  of  misery.  You  see  my  situation;  you  have  experienced  my 
secrecy  in  my  younger  days  and  you  know  the  inviolable  affection  I bear  toward 
you.  Apprehend  no  improper  effects  of  your  free  opinion  to  me. 

Washington  discouraged  the  idea,  and,  speaking  from  his  own  point 
of  view,  wrote  him: 


“Statement  to  writer  by  Mrs.  Francis. 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH 


277 


...  if  the  case  which  you  have  suggested  were  mine  I should  ponder  well 
before  I resolved,  not  only  for  private  considerations  but  on  public  grounds. 
The  latter  because,  being  the  first  magistrate  of  a respectable  State,  much 
speculation  would  be  excited  by  such  a measure.  . . . the  affairs  of  (France) 
would  seem  to  me  to  be  in  the  highest  paroxysm  of  disorder;  not  so  much  from 
the  pressure  of  foreign  enemies,  for  in  the  cause  of  liberty  this  ought  to  be 
fuel  to  the  fire  of  a patriot  soldier,  and  to  increase  his  ardor,  but  because  those 
in  whose  hands  the  government  is  entrusted  are  ready  to  tear  each  other  to 
pieces  & will  more  than  probably  prove  the  worst  foes  the  country  has.  . . . 

To  this  letter  Lee  replied  on  May  15,  1793: 

My  dear  friend.  I have  to  thank  you  from  my  heart  for  your  late  letter — It 
has  had  I hope  a happy  effect  for  I feel  myself  yeilding  to  its  weight  of  reason 
and  begin  to  think  that  the  pursuit  of  my  plan  would  in  the  present  condition 
of  things  be  madness. 

I shall  part  with  my  design  (for  the  execution  of  which  I have  prepared 
myself)  with  extreme  reluctance  & I hope  for  a change  in  the  fortune  of 
affairs  which  may  be  propitious  to  my  wishes. 

In  any  event  I shall  bear  in  remembrance  your  goodness  & pray  for  your 
constant  felicity  & prosperity. 

Charles  Carter  had  not  approved  of  Lee’s  prospective  plans.  Mr.  Lee 
must  give  up  this  mad  idea  of  going  to  France  in  such  a cause  or  else 
give  up  his  daughter.  Lee  gave  up  the  idea.  Then  Carter  wrote  him: 

The  only  objection  we  ever  had  to  your  connection  with  our  beloved  daughter 
is  now  entirely  done  away.  You  have  declared  upon  your  honor  that  you  have 
relinquished  all  thoughts  of  going  to  France,  and  we  rest  satisfied  with  that 
assurance.  As  we  certainly  know  that  you  have  obtained  her  consent,  you  shall 
have  that  of  her  parents  most  cordially,  to  be  joined  together  in  the  holy  bonds 
of  matrimony,  whenever  she  pleases;  and  as  it  is  determined  on,  by  the  appro- 
bation and  sincere  affection  of  all  friends,  as  well  as  of  the  parties  immediately 
concerned,  we  think  the  sooner  it  takes  place  the  better. 

The  date  for  the  wedding  was  placed  in  June.  When  General  Wash- 
ington learned  of  the  approaching  event,  he  wrote  Lee: 

...  As  we  are  told  that  you  have  exchanged  the  rugged  and  dangerous 
field  of  Mars  for  the  soft  and  pleasurable  bed  of  Venus,  I do  in  this,  as  I shall 
in  every  thing  you  may  pursue  like  unto  it,  good  and  laudable,  wish  you  all 
imaginable  success  and  happiness. 

At  this  time,  according  to  a family  tradition,  Washington  sent  the 
bride  a locket  containing  his  miniature,  inscribed,  "from  Washington 
to  his  dear  Ann.” 

The  Virginia  Gazette  and  General  Advertiser,  of  Richmond,  an- 
nounced on  June  26,  1793: 

On  Tuesday  evening,  the  18th  inst.  was  married  at  Shirley,  Governor  Lee, 
to  the  amiable  and  accomplished  Miss  Ann  Carter,  daughter  of  Charles  Carter, 
Esq. — An  event  which  promises  the  most  auspicious  fortune  to  the  wedded 


278  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

pair,  and  which  must  give  the  highest  satisfaction  to  their  numerous  and  re- 
spectable relatives. 

Was  the  present  hour  fixed  to  peace,  not  a voice  would  be  heard  interruptive 
of  the  happy  repose  which  Virginia’s  favorite  young  Souldier  has  assumed;  but 
should  cruel  fate  in  the  present  crisis  otherwise  command,  a different  destiny 
awaits,  and  must  awake  him. 

An  acute  sense  of  gratitude  for  favors  given  him  was  always  a pre- 
dominating quality  of  Harry  Lee’s  character.  It  would  be  unlike  him  not 
to  be  touched  by  Ann  Carter’s  love  for  him  and  to  be  grateful  for  it. 
This  is  evident  from  the  reference  he  made  years  afterward  when  he 
wrote  to  Carter  Lee  that  the  June  18,  1793,  that  was  his  wedding  day,  was 
"marked  only  by  the  union  of  two  humble  lovers.” 

No  description  of  Ann  Lee’s  regime  as  Virginia’s  First  Lady  is  avail- 
able. Inevitably  she  would  carry  to  the  Governor’s  Mansion  the  same 
simplicity  and  lack  of  ostentation  that  prevailed  at  Shirley,  the  same 
note  of  hospitality  and  of  social  gaiety  to  which  she  had  always  been 
accustomed.  By  comparison  with  the  great  house  of  Shirley  Plantation, 
the  Governor’s  Mansion  in  the  small  town  of  Richmond  was  imposing 
only  in  name.  It  was  a flimsy  frame  structure,  two  stories  high,  whose 
rooms,  not  half  the  size  of  those  at  Shirley,  were  plastered  and  not 
paneled.  A high  stone  wall  separated  the  rough,  uncultivated  grounds 
around  the  mansion  from  the  Capitol. 

The  neighbors,  however,  were  old  friends  of  the  Lees  and  Carters  for 
generations,  and  they  probably  welcomed  the  bride  from  Shirley  with 
open  arms.  Among  them  were  the  Edward  Carringtons  and  the  John 
Marshalls. 

There  were,  of  course,  trying  adjustments  for  Ann  to  make  since  she 
had  to  undertake  immediately  the  responsibility  of  a ready-made  family. 
Lucy  Grymes  and  little  Henry  Lee  were  difficult  children.  Because  of 
the  chronically  frail  condition  of  their  mother  and  their  father’s  preoc- 
cupation with  political  and  business  affairs,  these  two  younger  children 
seem  to  have  been  almost  entirely  in  the  care  of  the  servants.  When 
Governor  Lee  was  away  from  his  Richmond  home,  they  had  frequently 
stayed  at  Sully  with  their  father’s  brother,  Richard  Bland  Lee,  and  his 
wife.  When  their  father  married  Ann  Carter,  Lucy  Grymes  was  about 
eight  years  old  and  Henry  was  six.  Both  were  high-strung,  quick- 
tempered, emotional  children,  impulsive  and  self-willed.  It  appears 
that  their  new  mother  quickly  won  Henry’s  affection,  but  with  Lucy 
Grymes  the  relationship  seems  always  to  have  been  more  or  less  strained. 

Circumstances  gradually  parted  Ann  Lee  from  the  Farley  girls  with 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH  279 

whom  she  had  grown  up.  The  charming  Maria,  toast  of  the  James 
River  region,  had  thrown  away  "the  suit  of  the  Lord  of  Mount  Airy,” 
scion  of  the  Tayloe  family,  as  she  had  that  of  his  Excellency,  Governor 
Lee,  and  doubtless  of  many  another.  She  married  one  of  her  Carter 
cousins,  William  Champe  Carter,  nephew  of  Ann’s  father.  Her  new 
home  was  the  Carter  country  seat,  Blenheim,  in  Albemarle  County,  too 
far  removed  from  Richmond  for  her  to  see  Ann  often.  Several  years 
later  when  the  Lees  moved  to  Stratford,  the  distance  prohibited  visits 
altogether.  Yet  Maria  brought  up  her  children  to  love  Nancy  Carter. 
Maria’s  daughter  was  given  the  family  name  so  honored  for  three  gene- 
rations, Elisabeth  Hill  Carter.  In  1820  she  married  Samuel  Appleton 
Storrow  of  Massachusetts,  later  Judge  Advocate  General  of  the  United 
States  Army.  It  was  he  who  wrote  of  Governor  Lee’s  courtship  of  Maria 
Farley. 

Elizabeth,  or  Betsy  Farley,  as  Mrs.  Thomas  Lee  Shippen,  made  her 
home  in  the  country  outside  of  Philadelphia.  After  her  husband’s  death, 
she  married  George  Izzard  of  South  Carolina  and  went  to  live  in 
Charleston.  Many  years  later  she  came  back  to  visit  Ann  Lee  in  Alex- 
andria, as  she  wrote  her  son  William  Shippen,  and  their  old  friendship 
was  renewed. 

A close  and  gratifying  connection  developed  at  this  time  between 
Ann  Lee  and  her  husband’s  brothers  and  their  wives,  particularly  with 
the  family  at  Sully,  Richard  Bland  Lee  and  his  wife,  Elizabeth  Collins, 
and  the  Charles  Lees  of  Alexandria.  Their  friendship  was  to  mean  a 
great  deal  to  Ann  then  and  in  the  immediate  years  ahead. 

During  his  term  as  Virginia’s  chief  magistrate,  Harry  Lee  concen- 
trated upon  affairs  of  government  with  his  characteristic  vigor.  Like 
Thomas  Lee,  he  never  lost  his  concern  for  the  protection  of  the  frontiers; 
and,  arbitrarily  perhaps,  strengthened  the  militia  patrols  on  the  border, 
after  St.  Clair’s  defeat.  Had  he  waited  for  due  authorization  from  the 
Federal  government,  many  lives  would  undoubtedly  have  been  lost 
and  Virginia’s  border  settlements  imperilled  and  permanently  retarded. 
When  the  bill  of  $20,000  for  militia  and  fortification  expenses  was  pre- 
sented to  the  Federal  Treasury,  Secretary  of  War  Knox  objected  to  the 
payment.  James  Madison  and  Richard  Henry  Lee,  upholding  the  neces- 
sity for  Governor  Lee’s  course,  fought  the  case  in  Congress,  and  eventu- 
ally the  bills  were  paid.  In  recognition  of  their  Governor’s  protection, 
Virginians  gave  the  name  of  Lee  to  the  western  county  formed  in  the 
Cumberland  Mountain  region. 


280  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Among  other  events  of  Harry  Lee’s  administration  was  his  stand  in 
behalf  of  the  nation’s  neutrality  policy  when  he  took  measures  to  prevent 
the  fitting  out  and  sailing  of  privateers  from  Virginia  ports.  His  support 
of  Washington’s  refusal  to  aid  France  in  revolution,  in  the  face  of 
Genet’s  visit  to  the  United  States,  was  a source  of  surprise  to  many  who 
had  known  of  Lee’s  previous  attitude.  He  also  sponsored  the  relief  of 
French  emigres  who  settled  in  Russell  County. 

In  1793  he  espoused  the  eleventh  amendment  to  the  Constitution. 
His  position  in  this  matter  was  interesting  and  important.  It  was  in  con- 
nection with  the  suit  brought  by  the  Indiana  Company  against  the  Com- 
monwealth of  Virginia.  This  suit  involved  the  constitutional  right  of 
a citizen  or  citizens  of  the  United  States  to  sue  one  or  more  of  the  sov- 
ereign states  of  the  Union,  as  well  as  to  determine  the  extent  of  the 
judicial  power  of  the  United  States  under  the  Constitution.  The  suit 
of  Chisholm  versus  Georgia  was  already  pending,  the  decision  in  that 
case  being  handed  down  by  the  Supreme  Court  on  February  18,  1793. 
In  Lee’s  letter  to  Lieutenant  Governor  Wood,  dated  February  7,  1793, 
Lee  stands  foursquare  for  the  principle  which  finally  triumphed  in  the 
form  of  the  eleventh  amendment.  In  another  letter  of  March  3,  1793,  Lee 
again  points  out  the  necessity  for  a constitutional  amendment,  "explana- 
tory of  the  right  of  the  Federal  Judiciary.”  Thus  he  was  one  of  the  early 
and  ardent  advocates  of  the  eleventh  amendment.12 

In  the  following  year  came  another  test  of  the  Constitution — an  un- 
toward event  threatening  civil  war.  For  a long  time  discontent  had 
been  brewing  among  the  farmers  and  mountaineers  in  the  western 
counties  of  Pennsylvania  and  the  adjacent  sections  of  Virginia,  Mary- 
land, and  even  North  Carolina.  The  root  of  the  trouble  lay  specifically 
in  what  they  considered  an  unjust  and  unreasonable  tax  levied  by  the 
Federal  government  on  the  one  product  from  which  they  could  earn  a 
livelihood — whiskey  made  from  wheat,  their  only  saleable  crop.  This 
discontent,  fanned  by  desperate  living  conditions,  flamed  at  length  into 
organized  rebellion  against  the  government.  Modern  enlightened  treat- 
ment would  have  called  for  an  investigation  of  the  source  of  the  trouble, 
amelioration  of  the  tax,  and  a launching,  perhaps,  of  some  diversity 
of  industries  and  new  ways  and  means  of  livelihood  for  the  poverty- 
stricken  settlers  and  their  hard-driven  families.  But  there  appeared  to 
Washington  and  his  Cabinet  only  one  effective  course — to  crush  the  re- 
bellion by  force  of  arms.  An  army  of  15,000  soldiers  was  mustered  in 


“Calendar  of  Virginia  State  Papers,  VI,  28 7 and  304.  Tyler,  435  ff. 


CHIEF  MAGISTRATE  OF  THE  COMMONWEALTH  281 

infantry,  cavalry,  and  artillery  regiments — to  move  in  mass  against  the 
insurgents.  Washington  appointed  Governor  Lee  Major  General  in 
charge  of  the  expedition. 

In  a letter  to  Lee,  the  President  said : 

No  citizens  of  the  United  States  can  ever  be  engaged  in  a service  more  im- 
portant to  their  country.  It  is  nothing  less  than  to  consolidate  and  to  preserve 
the  blessings  of  that  revolution,  which,  at  much  expense  of  blood  and  treasure, 
constituted  us  a free  and  independent  nation.  It  is  to  give  to  the  world  an 
illustrious  example  of  the  utmost  consequence  to  the  cause  of  mankind.  I 
experienced  a heart-felt  satisfaction  in  the  conviction  that  the  conduct  of  the 
troops  will  be  in  every  respect  answerable  to  the  goodness  of  the  cause  and  the 
magnitude  of  the  stake.13 

At  this  crucial  moment,  when  it  seemed  that  the  union  itself  might 
be  imperilled,  Lee’s  allegiance  to  state  rights  appears  to  have  wavered. 
Throughout  his  administration  he  had  been  ardently  advocating  state 
rights  whenever  they  were  violated  by  what  he  thought  was  a wrong 
interpretation  of  the  Constitution,  but  when  it  came  to  a test,  he  aligned 
himself  heart  and  soul  with  the  Federal  government.  He  defended  the 
Constitution  and  the  Union  and  followed  to  the  letter  instructions  from 
his  commander  in  chief,  the  President  of  the  United  States. 

To  Harry  Lee’s  credit  not  a man  was  killed  on  either  side.  Not  one 
of  his  15,000  troopers  fired  a shot  against  the  frontiersmen  in  the  blood- 
less campaign.  The  first  attempt  to  defy  the  Constitution  was  halted. 
The  rebellion  was  quieted  by  the  mere  appearance  of  the  formidable 
army  and  by  the  restraint  and  discipline  of  Major  General  Lee. 

When  Lee  returned  to  Richmond,  he  found  that  Virginians  did  not 
approve  of  his  course.  Was  he,  after  all,  becoming  a Federalist  again  in- 
stead of  a state  rights  man?  This  question  may  have  gone  the  rounds  of 
the  counties.  In  any  event,  Lee  was  no  longer  Virginia’s  "Man  of  the 
Hour.” 

Of  more  concern  to  him  than  either  the  condemnation  or  applause  of 
his  state,  was  the  situation  in  his  family.  Both  Ann  and  little  Henry 
had  been  ill  when  he  left  them  to  command  the  western  expedition. 
During  the  months  of  his  absence,  even  though  they  were  tenderly  cared 
for  at  Shirley,  they  were  still  far  from  well.  Again  he  had  been  forced 
to  endure  the  same  anguish  of  dread  and  apprehension  he  had  so  often 
suffered  before. 

With  the  coming  of  the  spring,  Ann’s  first  child,  a son,  was  born  at 
Shirley  on  April  2,  1795.  He  was  given  the  name  of  Algernon  Sidney, 


13The  Lees  of  Virginia,  by  Burton  J.  Hendrick,  p.  374,  375. 


282  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

a traditional  ancestor  of  the  Virginia  Lees.  The  character  and  career 
of  the  soldier-statesman  of  seventeenth  century  England,  that  brave, 
resolute  younger  son  of  the  Earl  of  Leicester,  must  have  been  held  in 
peculiar  veneration  by  Harry  Lee  and  perhaps  also  by  Ann.  No  refer- 
ence to  Sidney  has  been  found  in  their  letters  or  papers,  yet  he  exercised 
an  influence  upon  Lee  so  direct  and  definite  that  Lee  named  two  of  his 
sons  for  the  famous  Captain  of  Horse.  At  the  head  of  his  regiment  Sid- 
ney had  led  the  gallant  charge  at  Marston  Moor.  He  had  pursued  ad- 
venture, loved  the  classics,  resisted  tyranny  always,  and  died  a martyr 
because  of  his  beliefs.  All  this  undoubtedly  made  a deep  impression 
upon  Harry  Lee.  There  are  strangely  analogous  points  in  the  lives  of  the 
two  men  a century  apart. 

Some  time  between  1795  and  1796  (the  date  is  not  recorded)  Lee 
moved  his  family  from  Richmond  to  Stratford.  Apparently  this  move 
was  deferred  as  long  as  possible.  For  Harry  Lee,  the  return  to  Stratford 
and  its  poignant  associations  with  the  past  must  have  been  a severe  trial. 
But  Stratford  was  his  home  and  the  home  of  Matilda’s  children.  The 
devoted  Ann  would  not  mind  its  solitude  so  long  as  he  was  with  her. 

They  had  been  there  only  perhaps  a few  months  when,  on  August  9, 
1796,  the  baby  died.  "His  mother  preserved  among  her  jewels,  as  more 
precious  than  them  all,  a rich  curl  of  his  golden  hair.”14 


Carter 


uLife  of  General  Henry  Lee,  by  R.  E.  Lee. 


CHAPTER  XIV:  THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


yO  record  of  the  family  life  at  Stratford  is  available  for  more 
than  a year  after  the  death  of  Algernon  Sidney  Lee.  In  a brief 
letter  to  Mrs.  Richard  Bland  Lee,  on  May  15,  1797,  Ann  men- 
tions having  taken  "a  very  fatiguing  ride  on  horseback,”  and  in  closing, 
expresses  her  "affectionate  and  unalterable  attachment”  to  both  Mrs. 
Lee  and  her  husband. 

Apparently  Colonel  Harry  did  not  return  to  the  farming  of  the 
plantation  with  any  degree  of  interest  or  success.  Instead,  he  began  to 
partition  it  further  by  selling  certain  tracts  and  portions  of  the  original 
acreage  not  included  in  the  deed  of  trust  of  1790.  The  Chantilly  tract, 
the  home  of  his  distinguished  kinsman,  Richard  Henry  Lee,  was  among 
these.  After  Richard  Henry’s  death  in  1794,  his  house  had  been  dis- 
mantled and  razed  to  the  ground. 

The  Chantilly  property  was  sold  by  Harry  and  Ann  Lee,  June  14, 
1797.  The  deed,  recorded  in  the  Westmoreland  Court  Papers  Septem- 
ber 22,  1797,  is  as  follows: 

Deed  between  Henry  Lee  and  Ann  his  wife  of  County  of  Westmoreland  of 
the  one  part  and  Josiah  Watson  of  the  Town  of  Alexandria  County  of  Fairfax 
of  the  other  part — - 

Whereas  the  Honourable  Phil.  Ludwell  Lee,  late  of  said  County  of  West- 
moreland, dec’d  was  in  his  lifetime  and  at  the  time  of  his  death  siezed  of  a 
Large  Estate  and  being  so  siezed  departed  this  life  intestate  whereby  the  whole 
of  his  real  estate  descended  unto  his  son  and  Heir-at-law  Philip  L.  Lee  who 
sometime  after  departed  this  life  under  the  age  of  21  yrs.  by  whose  death  the 
sd.  Estate  descended  unto  his  Sisters  Matilda  who  afterwards  intermarried  with 
Henry  Lee  and  Flora  who  intermarried  with  Ludwell  Lee  and  whereas  the  sd. 
Henry  Lee  and  Matilda  his  wife  and  Ludwell  Lee  and  Flora  his  wife  did  after- 
wards by  an  Indenture  bearing  date made  partition  and  Division  between 

them  of  the  Real  Estate  which  descended  unto  the  said  Matilda  & Flora  by  the 
Death  of  their  Brother  &c — in  which  Partition  among  other  parts  of  Land 
allotted  unto  sd.  Ludwell  & Flora  was  a tract  of  Land  called  "Chantilly”  sup- 
posed to  contain  500  Acres  which  said  Land  sd.  Ludwell  & Flora  deeded  for 
considerations  therein  named  to  sd.  Henry  Lee — Now  this  Indenture  that  sd. 
Henry  Lee  and  Ann  his  wife  doth  sell  unto  Josiah  Watson  sd.  tract  called 
"Chantilly”  &c. 

The  Chantilly  library,  according  to  G.  W.  Beale,  was  moved  to  Strat- 
ford and  Alexandria.  It  included  a large  collection  of  law  books  and 
historical  works,  valuable  state  and  county  papers,  legal  documents  and 
original  letters  from  officers  of  the  Continental  Army  and  statesmen  of 
the  Revolutionary  period  in  England,  France  and  the  colonies,  as  well 


[283] 


The  fruits  and  shades  of  Stratford. 


THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


285 


as  much  of  the  correspondence  of  the  live  Lee  brothers  of  Stratford. 
Many  of  these  important  documents  and  books  passed  into  the  posses- 
sion of  Richard  Henry’s  son,  Ludwell  Lee,  and  were  placed  in  the  li- 
brary of  his  house,  Shuter’s  Hill,  Alexandria.1  They  formed  the  basis 
for  the  first  biographies  of  Richard  Henry  and  Arthur  Lee,  written  a 
generation  later  by  the  son  of  Ludwell  and  Flora  Lee,  also  named  Rich- 
ard Henry. 

The  rest  of  the  Chantilly  collection  taken  to  Stratford  was  added  by 
Harry  Lee  to  his  own  historic  letters,  documents,  and  books,  and  those 
of  President  Lee  and  Philip  Ludwell  Lee.  In  later  years  these  were  to 
serve  him  in  the  compilation  of  his  Memoirs  and  to  contribute  much 
source-information  eventually  used  by  his  son  Henry  in  certain  of  his 
books  and  Virginia  sketches.  Carter  Lee  refers  to  this  collection  which 
in  his  youth  made  Stratford  Hall  a shrine  to  Clio.2 

On  the  eighth  of  November,  1798,  Ann  Lee  gave  birth  to  her  second 
child,  another  son,  whom  she  named  Charles  Carter  for  her  dearly  be- 
loved father. 

A pleasant  picture  is  given  a year  later  of  the  life  of  the  family  at 
Stratford.  Ann’s  joy  in  being  completely  alone  with  her  husband  and 
their  little  son  made  up  to  her— at  that  time — for  the  monotony  of  her 
isolated  home.  After  Shirley,  Stratford  must  have  had  the  solitude  of  a 
monastery.  Nevertheless,  Ann  Lee’s  contentment  is  voiced  in  this  well- 
known  letter  written  February  18,  1799,  to  Mrs.  Richard  Bland  Lee: 

...  I wish  you  would  write  frequently  to  me  my  dear  Mrs  Lee,  and  not 
regard  the  ceremony  of  receiving  regularly  my  answers:  every  communication 
respecting  your  health  and  happiness,  would  at  all  times  convey  to  me  real 
satisfaction.  I know  nothing  passing  in  your  part  of  the  Country,  so  you  will 
have  ample  subject,  in  relating  all  the  intelligence  that  your  Neighbourhood 
and  its  environs  can  afford.  So  confined  is  the  sphere  in  which  I have  moved 
for  the  last  six  months,  that  I am  almost  totally  ignorant  of  every  occurrence 
beyond  the  distance  of  fifteen  or  twenty  miles,  and  excepting  the  friends  who 
do,  and  always  will  retain  their  places  in  my  memory,  and  in  whose  remem- 
brance I hope  I shall  exist,  I may  with  much  truth  be  said  to  live  "The  World 
forgetting,  by  the  World  forgot.” 

I have  dined  once  at  Mr-  Turners,  and  have  spent  a day  and  night  at  Mr- 
Me.  Carty’s,  exclusive  of  these  visits,  I have  not  left  home  since  August.  How 
dull  to  you  who  live  in  a constant  succession  of  visiting  and  being  visited,  must 
such  a life  appear?  Yet  I do  not  find  it  in  the  smallest  degree  tiresome:  my 
hours  pass  too  nimbly  away — When  in  company,  if  agreeable  company,  I greatly 

1This  collection  was  removed  later  by  Ludwell  Lee  to  his  new  home,  Belmont,  Loudoun 
County,  Virginia.  A portion  of  it  is  now  at  Harvard  College  Library. 

2Photostats  of  all  original  manuscripts  of  this  Stratford  collection  are  in  the  possession  of 
Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Inc.,  and  the  Yale  University  Library. 


286 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


enjoy  it:  when  alone  my  Husband  and  Child  excepted,  I am  not  sensible  of 
the  want  of  society — In  them  I have  enough  to  make  me  cheerful  and  happy: 
Our  scene  will  shortly  be  diversified  by  the  marriage  of  Col°-  Washington;  his 
Lady  elect  has  the  reputation  of  being  a charming  Woman,  and  I reflect  with 
pleasure  on  the  improvement  our  Neighbourhood  will  receive  from  her 
residence.  . . . Cannot  you  visit  us  in  April  my  dear  Mrs-  Lee,  and  prevail 
with  Mrs-  Collins  to  accompany  you?  could  you  know  how  much  happiness  I 
should  receive  from  seeing  her  here,  I am  sure  you  would  use  your  influence  to 
gratify  me.  We  intend  at  present  spending  a part  of  the  ensuing  Summer  at 
the  Sweet  Springs:  in  May  we  begin  our  tour;  and  if  I do  not  see  you  before 
that  time,  I shall  not  till  Autumn. 

And  I confess  a glimpse  of  your  Ladyship  would  not  be  entirely  disagreeable, 
but  it  must  only  be  a glimpse,  for  you  know  how  soon  I become  fatigued  with 
your  company — Besides  I fear  Mrs-  Collins  will  have  left  you,  before  I reach 
Sully,  and  my  disappointment  would  be  greater  than  I can  express,  in  not  seeing 
her  before  she  quits  Virginia.  Mr-  Lee  left  home  the  day  John  Arrived,  and  as 
I expect  his  return  on  Wednesday,  I think  it  best  to  detain  John  till  then.  His 
object  was  to  visit  some  of  the  leading  characters  in  Lancaster  and  the  adjoin- 
ing Counties,  to  endeavour  to  obtain  their  interest  in  his  election:  so  that  I 
imagine  he  cannot  be  absent  longer  than  he  calculated  on.  I must  now  beg 
leave  to  introduce  to  your  acquaintance  my  little  Charles  Carter,  whom,  from 
the  s^pe/iahve  beauty  of  his  Father  and  Mother,  you  will  conceive  to  be  pos- 
sessed of  a large  portion,  but  alas!  my  dear,  he  inherits  neither  the  charms  of 
the  one,  nor  the  other — He  is  a little  black  eye’s,  brown  Boy;  very  healthy, 
good  tempered,  lively  (and  his  Mother  thinks)  very  sweet. — Kiss  my  dear 
Richard  a thousand  times  for  me,  and  do  not  suffer  him  to  forget  the  melodious 
tune  I used  to  delight  him  with.  My  dear  Mrs-  Lee  must  be  tired  of  my  prating, 
I will  relieve  her,  and  conclude  with  offering  my  sincere  love  to  Mrs-  Collins 
and  Mr-  Lee,  best  wishes  to  the  young  Ladies,  and  beging  her  always  to  remem- 
ber how  much  she  is  beloved  by  her 

A.  Lee. 

Mr-  George  Lee  is  absent — I have  done  myself  the  pleasure  of  procuring  the 
grafts  Mr  R.  Lee  wrote  for.  You  will  receive  three  kinds  of  Plums,  they  are 
remarkably  fine,  particularly  the  red  plum — 

A.  L.3 

The  McCartys  mentioned  in  this  letter  lived  at  Pope’s  Creek,  the 
plantation  adjoining  Stratford  on  its  western  area.  They  married  into 
the  Lee  family  later  and  several  of  their  large  land  holdings  passed 
into  the  hands  of  the  Lees. 

Colonel  Harry  became  more  and  more  engrossed  in  politics.  Not- 
withstanding the  unpopularity  of  the  Federalist  Party  in  Virginia  and 
his  own  unequivocal  support  of  Federal  measures,  he  was  elected  again 
to  Congress  in  the  spring  of  1799,  much  to  his  and  Ann’s  gratification. 


“Richard  Bland  Lee  Papers,  1700-1825,  Library  of  Congress. 


THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


287 


Washington,  always  his  friend  and  supporter,  was  actively  interested 
in  his  campaign  and  rode  to  the  polls  in  Montross  to  cast  his  vote  for 
Lee.  The  open  support  of  the  President  of  the  United  States  helped 
bring  Lee  the  large  majority  vote  as  recorded  in  Virginia  Westmoreland 
County  Records  for  1799:  Poll  for  representatives  to  Congress  and 

member  to  the  State  legislature  for  the  County  of  Westmoreland  taken 
the  24th  day  of  April  1799.  Candidates  for  Congress  H.  Lee — W.  Jones. 
Votes:  H.  Lee — 233;  W.  Jones  47.” 

The  prospect  of  a winter  in  Philadelphia  delighted  Ann,  and  for  her 
stepdaughter,  Lucy  Grymes,  it  was  equally  a source  of  great  expecta- 
tions. After  the  visit  to  the  Sweet  Springs,  the  family  journeyed  north- 
ward, reaching  Philadelphia  in  time  for  the  opening  of  the  Sixth  Con- 
gress. 

Philadelphia,  during  the  last  six  or  eight  years  of  the  eighteenth 
century,  was  a far  different  city  from  what  it  was  in  earlier  decades.  It 
was  crowded  with  new  people,  new  faces.  More  foreign  legations  were 
established  and  many  new  members  appointed  to  the  old  embassies. 
With  the  coming  of  hundreds  of  refugees  from  Paris  and  from  Port-au- 
Prince,  the  sober  Quaker  and  Presbyterian  environment  had  yielded  to 
gay,  bright  foreign  airs  and  graces. 

Watson,  an  eye-witness  of  what  he  terms  this  "strange  state  of  our 
society,”  writes  in  his  Annals  of  Philadelphia: 

About  this  time,  almost  every  vessel  arriving  here  brought  fugitives  from 
the  infuriated  negroes  in  Port  au  Prince,  or  the  sharp  axe  of  the  guillotine  in 
Paris,  dripping  night  and  day  with  the  blood  of  Frenchmen,  shed  in  the  name 
of  liberty,  equality,  and  the  (sacred)  rights  of  man.  Our  city  thronged  with 
French  people  of  all  shades  from  the  colonies  and  those  from  Old  France, 
giving  it  the  appearance  of  one  great  hotel,  or  place  of  shelter  for  strangers 
hastily  collected  together  from  a raging  tempest. 

. . . French  boarding  houses  (pension  Frangaise,)  multiplied  in  every  street. 
The  one  at  the  south  east  corner  of  Race  and  Second  streets,  having  some  40 
windows,  was  filled  with  colonial  French  to  the  garret  windows,  whistling 
and  jumping  about,  fiddling  and  singing,  as  fancy  seemed  to  suggest,  like  so 
many  crickets  and  grasshoppers.  Groups  of  both  sexes  were  to  be  seen  seated 
on  chairs,  in  summer  weather,  forming  semi-circles  near  the  doors,  so  dis- 
played as  sometimes  to  render  it  necessary  to  step  into  the  street  to  get  along; — 
their  tongues,  shoulders  and  hands  in  perpetual  motion,  jabbering  away,  "all 

talkers  and  no  hearers.” Instrumental  music  abounded  in  the  citv 

every  where,  by  day  as  well  as  by  night,  from  French  gentleman  (may  be) 
amateurs,  on  the  hautboy,  violin  and  clarionet,  exquisitely  played — and  seem- 
ingly intended  to  catch  the  attention  of  neighboring  fair  ones,  at  opposite 
windows. 


288  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

To  many  Philadelphians  the  French  were  like  "play  actors.”  Their 
presence  actually  gave  an  impetus  to  the  local  stage.  Seldom  had  there 
been  tragedies  and  comedies  in  the  Walnut  Street  theatre  in  such  rapid 
succession. 

The  Lee  family  took  lodgings  in  Franklin  Court,  in  the  fashionable 
section  of  the  city  below  Washington  Square  and  not  far  from  the  old 
Congress  Hall  on  Fourth  Street.  A few  doors  away  from  their  apart- 
ments were  those  of  their  old  Richmond  friend  and  neighbor,  John 
Marshall,  now  one  of  Lee’s  colleagues  in  the  Congress.  Close  by  was 
Shippen  House,  where  a few  years  before,  Colonel  Harry  and  Matilda 
had  been  so  often  entertained  by  their  hospitable  kinspeople.  But  now 
the  house  was  closed,  and  the  family  sadly  broken  up.  Thomas  Lee 
Shippen,  whom  Ann  knew  so  pleasantly  in  days  gone  by  at  Shirley, 
Westover,  and  Nesting,  was  dying,  and  his  wife,  Ann’s  old  friend  Betsy 
Farley,  was  with  him  in  South  Carolina.  Tom’s  sister,  Nancy,  Mrs. 
Henry  Beekman  Livingston,  separated  from  her  husband,  was  no  longer 
in  society,  and  with  her  young  daughter  had  moved  away  from  Fourth 
Street,  few  knew  where. 

Yet  the  Lees  found  in  Philadelphia  many  of  their  old  friends,  rela- 
tives and  connections  from  Virginia,  Maryland,  and  South  Carolina. 
And  with  the  opening  of  the  Congress  what  a succession  of  dinners,  teas, 
parties,  balls,  lectures,  concerts!  By  comparison  with  Richmond,  at  that 
period  so  small,  crude,  and  provincial  a town,  Philadelphia  was  to  Ann’s 
eye  a great  city.  Ann  Lee,  being  twenty-six  and  never  before  away  from 
Virginia,  must  have  had  the  same  zest  and  excitement  that  young  Lucy 
Grymes  had. 

Even  the  routine  of  shopping  had  a sense  of  adventure.  The  dry- 
goods  stores  by  the  Delaware  displayed  bright  colored  dimities,  muslins, 
gauzes,  slippers,  shoes,  bonnets,  caps  and  hats  of  enormous  size  imported 
from  England.  Such  gorgeous  display  could  never  be  seen  in  Richmond 
or  Williamsburg — or  indeed  in  any  city  except  in  Philadelphia. 

A few  weeks  after  the  Lees’  arrival,  news  of  a public  calamity  reached 
the  city- — the  death  of  General  Washington.  Lee  was  on  his  way  to 
Congress  when  he  heard  the  report,  but  immediately  returned  to  his 
lodgings  and  wrote  a set  of  resolutions  to  offer  Congress. 

According  to  the  Annals  of  The  Congress  of  the  United  States  of 
December  19,  1799,  Marshall  announced  the  death  of  General  Wash- 
ington to  the  House  and  at  the  same  time  offered  the  following  resolu- 
tions: 


THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


289 


That  this  House  wait  on  the  President  of  the  United  States  in  condolence  of 
this  national  calamity.  That  the  Speaker’s  chair  be  shrouded  with  black,  and 
that  the  members  and  officers  of  the  House  wear  mourning,  during  the  session. 

That  a joint  committee  of  both  Houses  be  appointed  to  report  measures  suit- 
able to  the  occasion,  and  expressive  of  the  profound  sorrow  with  which  Con- 
gress is  penetrated  at  the  loss  of  a citizen,  first  in  war,  first  in  peace,  and  first  in 
the  hearts  of  his  countrymen. 

That  when  this  House  adjourns,  it  will  adjourn  until  Monday  next.4 

Marshall,  Lee,  and  others  were  appointed  on  the  committee,  jointly 
with  the  Senate  delegates,  "for  the  purpose  expressed  in  the  third  reso- 
lution.” This  committee  decided  that  a marble  mausoleum  to  contain 
the  body  of  their  illustrious  chief  should  be  erected  in  the  new  Federal 
capital,  the  city  of  Washington. 

On  Monday,  December  23,  John  Marshall  reported  this  action  of  the 
joint  committees  as  to  "what  testimony  of  respect  ought  to  be  paid  to 
the  memory  of  the  man  . . and  he  repeated  Lee’s  phrases  soon  to 
become  history,  "the  man,  first  in  war,  first  in  peace,  and  first  in  the 
hearts  of  his  countrymen.” 

Speaking  in  behalf  of  the  committee’s  proposed  plan,  Lee  said: 

In  executing  the  task  assigned  to  the  committee,  it  will  be  observed  much 
remains  to  be  done;  so  far  as  they  have  gone,  and  as  far  as  they  may  go,  one 
hope  is  to  be  cherished,  that  whatever  is  done,  will  be  unanimously  adopted. 

This  will  be  pleasing  to  our  constituents  and  most  honorable  to  the  char- 
acter we  all  honor.  Out  of  a wish  to  execute  in  the  best  manner  the  direction 
of  the  House,  a difference  of  opinion  will  naturally  prevail.  This  difference  of 
opinion  however  commendable,  upon  ascertaining  the  mode  of  public  mourn- 
ing, ought  to  be  suspended  when  we  come  to  act,  for  unanimity  then  is,  as  I 
before  stated,  most  to  be  wished  for,  whether  the  feelings  of  our  constituents, 
or  our  intentions,  or  the  celebrity  which  all  desire  to  give  to  the  high  occasion, 
govern. 

The  action  was  then  unanimously  agreed  upon  and  the  first  step  taken 
in  the  launching  of  the  Washington  Monument.  On  the  following  day, 
which  was  Christmas  Eve,  the  Annals  record  that  the  House  was  in- 
formed that  "The  President  of  the  Senate  and  the  Speaker  of  the  House 
of  Representatives  had  requested  Major  General  Henry  Lee  ...  to 
prepare  and  deliver  a funeral  oration  . . . and  that  Mr.  Lee  had  been 
pleased  to  accept  of  the  appointment.”  In  requesting  Lee  to  give  the 
funeral  oration  as  one  of  the  representatives  from  the  State  of  Virginia, 
his  close  friendship  with  Washington  was  officially  recognized  and  the 

4That  Harry  Lee  was  author  of  these  Resolutions  is  stated  by  John  Marshall.  It  is  also  re- 
ferred to  in  Notes  on  History  of  Washington  Monument  Taken  From  The  Dedicatory  Address 
of  Honorable  W.  W.  Corcoran.  First  Vice-President  of  the  Washington  Monument  Association, 
Feb.  21,  1885,  pp.  12-21. 


290 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


devotion  and  unswerving  loyalty  he  had  given  to  Washington’s  prin- 
ciples and  practices. 

A reference  to  Philadelphia’s  sentiment  on  that  Christmas  Day  of 
1799  is  written  by  a Quaker  girl,  Elizabeth  Drinker,  in  her  journal: 

Dec.  25.  There  is  to  be  great  doings  tomorrow  by  way  of  respect  to  General 
Washington’s  memory;  a funeral  procession,  an  oration,  or  an  eulogium  to  be 
delivered  by  Henry  Lee,  a member  of  Congress  from  Virginia.  The  members 
of  Congress  are  to  be  in  deep  mourning;  the  citizens  generally  to  wear  crape 
round  their  arms,  for  six  months.  Congress-hall  is  in  mourning,  and  even  the 
Play-house;  there  has  been  and  like  to  be,  much  said  and  done  on  the  occa- 
sion. I was  sorry  to  hear  of  his  death,  and  many  others  who  make  no  show. 
Those  forms  to  be  sure,  are  out  of  our  way,  but  many  will  join  in  ye  form 
that  cared  little  about  him. 

Elizabeth  Drinker’s  second  entry,  December  27th,  is: 

The  funeral  procession  in  honor  of  the  late  Commander-in-Chief  of  the 
Armies  of  the  United  States,  Lieut.  Gen.  George  Washington,  yesterday  took 
place.  They  assembled  at  the  State-house — went  from  thence  in  grand  proces- 
sion to  ye  Dutch  Church,  called  Zion  church  in  Fourth  street,  where  Major 
Gen.  Henry  Lee  delivered  an  oration  to  4000  persons,  or  near  that  number, 
who  were,  ’tis  said,  within  the  church.  Ye  concourse  of  people  in  the  streets, 
and  at  ye  windows  was  very  enormous.  . . . 

Standing  before  his  colleagues  of  the  two  Houses  of  Congress  and  a 
large  concourse  of  Philadelphia’s  citizens,  assembled  in  the  church, 
Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  began: 

In  obedience  to  your  will,  I rise,  your  humble  organ,  with  the  hope  of  execut- 
ing a part  of  the  system  of  public  mourning  which  you  have  been  pleased  to 
adopt,  commemorative  of  the  death  of  the  most  illustrious  and  most  beloved 
personage  this  country  has  ever  produced.  . . . 

The  founder  of  our  federate  republic — our  bulwark  in  war,  our  guide  in 
peace,  is  no  more!  . . . His  fame  survives!  bounded  only  by  the  limits  of  the 
earth,  and  by  the  extent  of  the  human  mind.  He  survives  in  our  heart — in  the 
growing  knowledge  of  our  children — in  the  affection  of  the  good  throughout 
the  world.  And  when  our  monuments  shall  be  done  away;  when  nations  now 
existing  shall  be  no  more;  when  even  our  young  and  far-spreading  empire 
shall  have  perished;  still  will  our  Washington’s  glory  unfaded  shine,  and  die 
not,  until  love  of  virtue  cease  on  earth,  or  earth  itself  sinks  into  chaos!  . . . 

Who  is  there  that  has  forgotten  the  vales  of  Brandywine,  the  fields  of  Ger- 
mantown, or  the  plains  of  Monmouth?  Every  where  present,  wants  of  every 
kind  obstructing,  numerous  and  valiant  armies  encountering,  himself  a host,  he 
assuaged  our  sufferings,  limited  our  privations,  and  upheld  our  tottering  re- 
public. . . . 

Possessing  a clear  and  penetrating  mind,  a strong  and  sound  judgment,  calm- 
ness and  temper  for  deliberation,  with  invincible  firmness  and  perserverance  in 
resolutions  maturely  formed;  drawing  information  from  all;  acting  from 


THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


291 


himself,  with  incorruptible  integrity  and  unvarying  patriotism;  his  own  su- 
periority and  the  public  confidence  alike  marked  him  as  the  man  designed  by 
Heaven  to  lead  in  the  great  political  as  well  as  military  events  which  have 
distinguished  the  era  of  his  life.  ...  To  realize  the  vast  hopes  to  which  our 
revolution  had  given  birth,  a change  of  political  system  became  indispensable. 
How  novel,  how  grand  the  spectacle!  Independent  States  stretched  over  an 
immense  territory,  and  known  only  by  common  difficulty,  clinging  to  their 
union  as  the  rock  of  their  safety;  deciding,  by  frank  comparison  of  their  relative 
condition,  to  rear  on  that  rock,  under  the  guidance  of  reason,  a common  gov- 
ernment, through  whose  commanding  protection,  liberty  and  order,  with  their 
long  tram  of  blessings,  should  be  safe  to  themselves,  and  the  sure  inheritance 
of  their  posterity.  . . . 

Commencing  his  administration,  what  heart  is  not  charmed  with  the  recol- 
lection of  the  pure  and  wise  principles  announced  by  himself,  as  the  basis  of 
his  political  life?  He  best  understood  the  indissoluble  union  between  virtue 
and  happiness,  between  duty  and  advantage,  between  the  genuine  maxims  of 
an  honest  and  magnanimous  policy,  and  the  solid  rewards  of  public  prosperity 
and  individual  felicity.  Watching  with  an  equal  and  comprehensive  eye  over 
this  great  assemblage  of  communities  and  interests,  he  laid  the  foundations  of 
our  national  policy  in  the  unerring,  immutable  principles  of  morality,  based 
on  religion,  exemplifying  the  pre-eminence  of  a free  government  by  all  the 
attributes  which  win  the  affections  of  its  citizens,  or  command  the  respect  of 
the  world.  . . . 

First  in  war,  first  in  peace,  and  first  in  the  hearts  of  his  countrymen,  he  was 
second  to  none  in  the  humble  and  endearing  scenes  of  private  life.  Pious,  just, 
humane,  temperate  and  sincere;  uniform,  dignified  and  commanding,  his  ex- 
ample was  as  edifying  to  all  around  him,  as  were  the  effects  of  that  example 
lasting.  . . . 

Methinks  I see  his  august  image,  and  hear,  falling  from  his  venerable  lips, 
these  deep  sinking  words: 

"Cease,  Sons  of  America,  lamenting  our  separation.  Go  on,  and  confirm  by 
your  wisdom  the  fruits  of  our  joint  councils,  joint  efforts,  and  common  dangers. 
Reverence  religion;  diffuse  knowledge  throughout  your  land;  patronize  the  arts 
and  sciences;  let  liberty  and  order  be  inseparable  companions;  control  party 
spirit,  the  bane  of  free  government;  observe  good  faith  to,  and  cultivate  peace 
with  all  nations.”  . . . 

On  this  same  day,  Friday,  December  27,  the  journals  of  the  Congress 
record: 

The  House  of  Representatives  of  the  United  States,  highly  gratified  with  the 
manner  in  which  Mr.  Lee  has  performed  the  service  assigned  to  him  under  the 
resolution  desiring  the  President  of  the  Senate  and  Speaker  of  the  House  of 
Representatives  to  request  one  of  the  members  of  Congress  to  prepare  and 
deliver  a funeral  oration  on  the  death  of  George  Washington ; and  desirous 
of  communicating  to  their  fellow-citizens,  through  the  medium  of  the  press, 
those  sentiments  of  respect  for  the  character,  of  the  gratitude  for  the  services, 


292 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


and  of  grief  for  the  death  of  that  illustrious  personage,  which,  felt  by  all,  have 
on  this  melancholy  occasion,  been  so  well  expressed: 

Resolved,  That  the  Speaker  present  the  thanks  of  the  House  to  Mr.  Lee, 
for  the  oration  delivered  by  him  to  both  Houses  of  Congress  on  Thursday,  the 
twenty-sixth  instant;  and  request  that  he  will  permit  a copy  thereof  to  be  taken 
for  publication. 

In  sending  these  resolutions  to  Lee,  Theodore  Sedgwick  wrote: 

Philadelphia,  Dec.  27,  1799- 

Dear  Sir:  The  enclosed  resolutions,  which  unanimously  passed  the  House 
of  Representatives  this  day,  will  make  known  to  you  how  highly  they  have 
been  gratified  with  the  manner  in  which  you  have  performed  the  service  as- 
signed to  you,  in  preparing  and  delivering  a funeral  oration  on  the  death  of 
General  Washington.  That  our  constituents  may  participate  in  the  gratifica- 
tion we  have  received,  from  your  having  so  well  expressed  those  sentiments 
of  respect  for  the  character,  of  gratitude  for  the  services,  and  of  grief  for  the 
death  of  that  illustrious  personage.  I flatter  myself  you  will  not  hesitate  to 
comply  with  the  request  of  the  House,  by  furnishing  a copy  of  your  oration, 
to  be  taken  for  publication. 

Allow  me,  while  performing  this  pleasing  task  of  official  duty  in  com- 
municating an  act  of  the  Representatives  of  the  People,  so  just  to  you  and  so 
honorable  to  themselves,  to  embrace  the  opportunity  to  declare  that  I am, 
personally,  with  great  esteem  and  sincere  regard,  dear  sir,  your  friend  and 
obedient  servant, 

Theodore  Sedgwick. 

The  Hon.  Maj.  Gen.  Lee. 

To  this  letter  Lee  replied: 

Franklin  Court,  Dec.  28,  1799- 

Dear  Sir:  I owe  to  the  goodness  of  the  House  of  Representatives  the  honor 
which  their  resolutions  confer  on  my  humble  efforts  to  execute  their  wish. 

I can  never  disobey  their  will,  and  therefore  will  furnish  a copy  of  the  ora- 
tion delivered  on  the  late  afflicting  occasion,  much  as  I had  flattered  myself 
with  a different  disposition  of  it. 

Sincerely  reciprocating  the  personal  considerations  with  which  you  honor 
me,  I am,  very  respectfully,  sir,  your  friend  and  obedient  servant, 

Henry  Lee.3 

The  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Reps. 

Little  more  than  a week  later  Lee  took  emphatic  position  in  behalf  of 
better  organized  national  defense.  As  Chairman  of  the  Committee  to 
Report  on  Alterations  of  the  Militia  Bill  he  said:  ”...  the  history  of 
man,  from  the  beginning  of  the  world  to  this  day  . . . maintains  the 
folly  of  placing  the  defence  of  a nation  on  what  we  call  militia  only. . . . 

"But  when  you  regard  the  army  as  part  of  a general  system  of  defence, 
when  you  regard  it  as  indicative  of  the  public  spirit,  it  must  have  its 


Tetter,  Henry  Lee  to  Sedgwick,  Debates  and  Proceedings  6th  Congress,  col.  222-223. 


THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


293 


proportional  influence  . . . and  when  you  view  it  as  the  rallying  point 
of  our  militia,  in  case  of  invasion,  14,000  well  disciplined,  well-ap- 
pointed troops  would  not  be  found  an  inconsiderable  obstruction..  . 

Meanwhile,  the  bill  for  erecting  a mausoleum  for  George  Washing- 
ton, the  motion  for  which,  at  Lee’s  earnest  plea,  had  unanimously 
passed  the  House,  was  meeting  with  stout  opposition.  On  May  10,  it 
passed  the  House  by  a vote  of  fiftv-four  to  nineteen.  But  John  Randolph 
was  a powerful  opponent.  Two  days  later  the  Senate  postponed  con- 
sideration of  the  bill  until  the  next  session.  Lee  had  reason  to  be  much 
concerned,  and  when  Congress  reconvened  the  following  November, 
he  led  the  movement  for  the  Washington  Monument. 

3 

When  Congress  adjourned,  the  Lees  returned  to  Westmoreland. 
Ann’s  younger  brother,  Bernard  Moore  Carter,  was  a frequent  guest  at 
Stratford  at  this  time.  Lucy,  then  about  fifteen,  was  the  only  daughter 
of  the  house.  She  was  a graceful,  slender  girl  with  brilliant  black  eyes 
and  aristocratic  features.  Though  she  was  not  the  beauty  her  mother, 
Matilda,  had  been,  her  portrait  indicates  that  as  a young  girl  she  was 
strikingly  attractive.  Ann’s  brother  found  her  so,  and  they  became 
engaged  to  be  married. 

On  the  nineteenth  of  June,  1800,  Ann’s  first  daughter  was  born,  and 
named  Ann  Kinloch— the  middle  name  being  in  honor  of  one  of  the 
family’s  friends  of  the  Shirley  household  years  ago.  How  Carter  re- 
joiced in  that  baby  sister!  At  last  he  was  to  have  a playmate  near  his 
own  age.  The  little  fellow  was  devotedly  attached  to  Bernard  Carter 
and  also  to  his  half-brother,  but  Henry  was  twelve  years  older  than 
Carter.  As  for  Lucy  Grymes,  she  was  always  "grown  up”  to  the  little 
boy.  And  now  she  was  planning  to  marry  "Uncle  Bernard.” 

Although  no  records  describe  the  ceremony  or  even  the  date  or  place, 
it  undoubtedly  occurred  at  Stratford  sometime  that  summer;  and  Colonel 
Harry  probably  gave  Lucy  "a  big  wedding.”  It  was  the  last  wedding  of 
a daughter  of  the  Stratford  Lees.  One  of  the  wedding  presents  from 
Charles  Carter  of  Shirley  to  his  son,  Bernard,  and  his  bride  was  Wood- 
stock,  a beautiful  country  seat  in  Fauquier  County,  where  thev  estab- 
lished their  home.  There  was,  however,  according  to  Lucy’s  mind  but 
one  place  in  the  world  to  live;  and  that  was  not  in  the  country  in  Vir- 
ginia, but  in  the  city  of  Philadelphia.  She  endured  the  country  as  long 

“Speech  by  Henry  Lee  against  bill  for  reduction  of  the  army,  Jan.  8,  1800.  Debates  and 
Proceedings  Congress,  col.  274,  275. 


294 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


as  she  could,  and  then,  in  order  to  live  in  Philadelphia,  she  threatened  to 
set  fire  to  Woodstock  and  burn  it  to  the  ground.  The  threat  was  evi- 
dently effective,  for  Lucy  eventually  realized  her  desire  for  a home  in 
Philadelphia. 

According  to  the  family  account  Lucy  was  highly  temperamental, 
fond  of  excitement,  variety,  and  new,  interesting  people.  'Tve  been  ac- 
customed to  live  with  my  father  and  brother,”  she  said,  "such  charming 
men!  How  could  I stand  Bernard  Carter?  He  is  the  handsomest  man  I 
ever  saw,  but  such  a fool!” 

Many  of  Lucy’s  letters  survive,  but  in  them  she  never  mentions  the  life 
at  Stratford  or  her  stepmother  Ann  Lee.7 

When  the  Stratford  baby,  Ann  Kinloch,  was  about  four  months  old, 
her  mother  renewed  the  interrupted  correspondence  with  her  dear 
Elizabeth  Collins  Lee  of  Sully,  explaining  why  she  had  been  so  long 
out  of  touch: 

. . . Many  of  my  friends  (and  you  among  others  I find)  have  supposed  that 
when  in  Philadelphia  I ought  to  have  loved,  thought  of,  and  written  to  them 
as  usual;  but  my  dear  you  must  all  learn  to  know  me  better  when  I visit  gay 
City’s:  it  was  unreasonable  to  imagine  I could  find  leisure  to  remember  Coun- 
try friends  while  immersed  in  the  pleasures  of  a City  life. — And  now  I think 
you  are  more  vexed  with  me  than  ever,  but  tranquillize  your  little  Ladyship 
and  believe  what  is  literally  true,  that  while  in  your  charming  Philadelphia  I 
was  not  Mistress  of  my  time,  and  since  my  return  to  Virginia,  have  been  con- 
stantly very  much  indisposed  till  lately.  . . . 

4 

The  next  session  of  the  Sixth  Congress  met  in  the  city  of  Washington 
on  the  Potomac.  The  power  of  the  Federalists  was  waning  fast.  For 
every  measure  Harry  Lee  espoused  he  had  to  fight  practically  single- 
handed.  It  is  doubtful  that  Ann  was  with  him  that  winter.  With  a 
six-months-old  baby  and  a two-year-old  son  to  care  for,  it  was  hardly 
probable  that  Ann  would  have  left  Stratford  to  bring  the  children  to 
live  in  some  cramped,  uncomfortable  lodgings  in  a city  under  con- 
struction. Besides  this,  the  family  would  incur  expenses  her  husband 
could  not  afford.  Ann  was  now  beginning  to  consider  gravely  this  as- 
pect of  their  lives. 

7The  tradition  that  Lucy  set  fire  to  Woodstock  became  in  time  accepted  as  fact  but  her 
niece,  Mrs.  Mildred  Lee  Francis,  denies  its  occurrence.  In  a letter  dated  to  the  author,  April  27, 
1936,  Mrs.  Francis  says:  “Lucy  Lee  Carter,  Harry  Lee’s  daughter,  did  not  burn  down  her  house 
in  Woodstock  nor  any  other  house  she  may  have  had.  The  life  at  Woodstock  was  very  dull  and 
she  was  anxious  to  leave  the  place,  and  she  may  have  made  impatient  threats  to  burn  the  house 
if  Mr.  Bernard  Carter  insisted  on  remaining  at  Woodstock.  I heard  this  denial  of  Mrs.  Carter’s 
responsibility  for  the  fire  from  an  old  lady  who  knew  everything  that  had  happened  in  Virginia 
and  who,  though  always  wishing  to  tell  the  truth,  was  in  no  way  inclined  to  defend  Mrs.  Carter.” 


THE  RETURN  TO  WESTMORELAND 


295 


With  his  characteristic  fervor,  Lee  was  subordinating  everything  in 
his  personal  or  family  life  to  his  one  purpose  of  establishing  the  na- 
tional memorial  to  Washington,  which  he  had  worked  for  in  the  pre- 
ceding session.  He  had  been  responsible  for  the  memorial  to  General 
Greene.  To  Washington,  who  was  in  his  mind  the  superior  of  all  men, 
a monument  should  be  raised  commensurate  with  his  incomparable 
service  to  the  country.  At  the  time  when  Lee’s  resolution  providing  for 
the  marble  mausoleum  had  unanimously  passed  the  House,  the  news 
of  the  death  of  Washington  had  just  reached  Philadelphia.  A year  later 
the  political  opponents  of  the  first  President  regretted  their  enthusiasm 
and  refused  to  vote  the  necessary  appropriation.  Marshall  said: 

That  the  great  events  of  the  political  as  well  as  the  military  life  of  General 
Washington  should  be  commemorated,  could  not  be  pleasing  to  those  who 
had  condemned,  and  who  continued  to  condemn,  the  whole  course  of  his  ad- 
ministration. 

Meanwhile  consent  for  the  removal  of  her  husband’s  body  from 
Mount  Vernon  had  been  obtained  from  Mrs.  Washington.  But  matters 
were  at  a standstill  and  complications  began  to  develop  in  both  the 
House  and  Senate.  The  disillusioning  record  appears  in  the  Journals  of 
1800-1801.  As  Lee  described  the  situation  to  Washington’s  secretary, 
Tobias  Lear,  he  found  that  securing  the  necessary  appropriation  would 
be  "a  difficult  business,  infinitely  more  so  than  you  or  I thought.” 

The  cause  was  Lee’s  not  only  because  he  was  chairman  of  the  me- 
morial committee  but  also,  and  chiefly,  because  he  worshipped  General 
Washington.  He  knew  from  a lifetime’s  association  the  high  character 
and  the  self-sacrifice  of  the  man  to  whom  the  American  people  were 
so  deeply  indebted.  Every  -word  Lee  had  spoken  in  his  funeral  address 
came  from  his  heart.  No  personal  defeat  so  nearly  crushed  his  spirit  as 
the  loss  of  his  fight  for  the  memorial  to  Washington.  That  this  defeat 
was  only  temporary  he  had  no  means  of  knowing.  On  March  3,  the 
Senate  voted  to  pass  over  the  bill  "until  December  next.”  Inasmuch  as 
Lee’s  political  star  was  setting  and  he  was  likely  not  to  reenter  public 
life,  he  would  not  again  be  enabled  to  work  for  this  cause.  He  never 
knew  that  the  idea  was  also  in  the  minds  of  others  and  would  eventually 
be  revived  and  wrought  into  marble;  that  many  years  after  his  death 
his  dream  would  come  true.  Yet  how  few  today  remember  that  the 
Washington  Monument  had  first  root  in  the  imagination  and  the  spirit 
of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee.  So  in  stone  and  in  imperishable  words  has 
he  paid  tribute  to  the  man  whom  he  described  as  "first  in  war,  first  in 
peace,  and  first  in  the  hearts  of  his  countrymen.” 


CHAPTER  XV:  THROUGH  CARTER’ S EYES 


1 

DURING  the  summer  of  1802  the  Stratford  family  again  went  on 
"a  Northern  tour”  as  Carter  Lee  describes  the  trip.  He  was  four 
years  old  and  his  sister,  Ann,  eighteen  months  younger.  They 
drove  overland  in  their  coach  and  four,  first  to  Alexandria  and  then 
by  the  old  stage  road  to  Philadelphia  and  New  York. 

Only  dire  necessity  could  have  prompted  this  long,  rough  journey  at 
such  a time,  for  Ann  Lee  was  expecting  the  birth  of  her  fourth  child 
within  a very  few  months.  Colonel  Harry  was  without  the  promise  of 
any  political  appointment  with  its  certainty  of  income,  however  slight, 
and  his  personal  business  and  semi-public  development  enterprises  were 
halted  for  lack  of  money.  There  was  always  the  hope  of  raising  fresh 
capital  in  the  north,  or  at  least  of  collecting  old  loans  from  friends 
whom  he  had  helped  in  the  past.  Severe  as  the  ordeal  threatened  to  be 
for  his  wife,  the  alternative  of  leaving  her  and  the  children  alone  at 
Stratford  was  worse.  In  the  face  of  his  former  tragic  experiences  it  was 
not  to  be  thought  of. 

Difficult  and  disappointing  as  the  results  proved  to  be  to  Ann  and 
Harry  Lee,  the  journey  was  a series  of  magical  events  to  their  son  Carter. 
There  was  his  adventure  with  a chimney  sweep,  a queer  black  imp 
from  the  nether  world  suddenly  emerging  from  the  chimney  of  the 
dressing  room  of  their  lodgings  in  Philadelphia!  Then  in  the  strange, 
faraway  foreign  city  of  New  York,  in  palaces,  as  he  termed  the  theatres, 
to  which  his  father  took  him,  he  saw  real  live  "Kings  & Queens.”  The 
most  extraordinary  event  of  the  entire  journey  was  the  coming  of  a baby 
brother. 

Years  afterwards  Carter  wrote  of  it  all.  Unknown  to  anyone,  his 
original  manuscript,  just  as  it  was  hurriedly  composed,  remained  for 
over  two  generations  at  the  bottom  of  an  old  trunk  in  the  home  of  one 
of  his  descendants  living  in  a remote  section  of  Virginia.  These  remi- 
niscences were  perhaps  written  in  the  closing  years  of  Carter  Lee’s  long 
life: 

At  present  I am  engaged  about  the  scenes  on  the  earliest  dawn  of  permanent 
memory. 

It  is  among  the  very  interesting  regions  of  mental  philosophy.  At  the  period 
I now  speak  of  I was  four  years  old,  as  I gather  from  the  record  of  the  birth  of 
a brother,  who  was  born  during  a Northern  tour  of  my  parents,  made  in  their 
coach  & four.  & who  was  named  Smith  from  the  hospitable  family,  in  whose 
house  he  was  born.  Of  the  incidents  of  that  tour  I have  but  two  distinct 
recollections.  One  was  of  seeing  the  coach  horses  let  down  in  the  hole  of  a 
vessil.  . . . 


[296] 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


297 


The  next  is  of  being  dreadfully  scared  by  the  hurtling  down  from  the  chim- 
ney in  the  room  where  I was  dressing,  in  Philadelphia,  of  a chimney-sweep, 
whose  sooty  costume  & begrimed  aspect,  made  me,  doubtless  confound  him 
with  those  imps,  with  which  the  stories  of  our  nurses,  fill  the  imaginations 
of  children  they  would  control  by  fears  of  them.  My  father  was  fortunately 
present,  who  soon  relieved  me  from  my  alarm.  He  carried  me  every  where 
with  him,  that  he  could  with  propriety,  & among  other  places  to  the  Theatre, 
& I remember  bragging  when  I got  home  of  having  seen  Kings  & Queens  in 
my  Northern  travels,  which  I sincerely  thought  I had  done;  & it  was  many 
years  before  I became  ware,  that  it  was  the  representations  of  these  dignitaries 
on  the  stage,  & not  their  majesties  themselves,  that  I had  gazed  on  with  such 
admiration.  When  long  afterwards,  in  reading  Shakespeare,  I first  came  to 
the  line,  A horse,  a horse,  my  kingdom  for  a horse!’’  I recollected  it  as  dis- 
tinctly as  seeing  our  coach  horses  deposited  in  the  hole  of  a vessil,  & yet, 
strange  to  say,  I can  recall  no  distinct  recollection  of  a theatrical  exploit  of  mv 
own,  about  the  time  of  my  adventure  with  the  chimney-sweep,  & which,  from 
a narration  of  it,  I have  heard  an  hundred  times,  was  calculated  to  make  an 
impression  on  my  memory  as  lasting  as  vivid.  It  seems,  that  among  the  plays 
my  father  took  me  to  see,  was  "Venice  Preserved,”  & that  when  Jaffier  of- 
fered to  kill  his  wife,  I started  up  in  the  Box  whose  position  was  conspicuous, 
& exclaimed  in  a most  menacing  attitude  to  Jaffier — "You  shan't  kill  that 
lady!”  The  applauses  of  the  whole  Theatre  were  deafening,  as  I have  always 
been  told, — the  Actors  as  well  as  the  audience  being  delighted  with  the  com- 
plete illusion  which  their  art  effected  in  the  most  unsophisticated  of  their  spec- 
tators. . . . 

It  was  probably  October  or  November  before  the  Lees  turned  home- 
ward. Then  they  went,  as  Carter  tells,  by  boat  instead  of  driving  over- 
land. The  baby  he  mentions  was  born  on  September  second,  evidently 
an  earlier  date  than  expected,  when  the  family  was  passing  through 
New  Jersey.  During  Ann  Lee’s  confinement,  she  and  her  family  were 
the  guests  of  friendly  strangers  by  the  name  of  Smith,  living  near  Cam- 
den. So  profound  was  the  gratitude  of  Ann  and  her  husband  for  the 
aid  and  courtesy  given  them  that  they  named  their  new  son  after  this 
hospitable  family.  Sidney,  the  name  of  their  first  born  who  had  died, 
was  added,  being  also  the  name  of  the  British  hero  so  honored  in  the 
Lee  family  history.  But  all  his  life  Sidney  Smith  Lee  was  known  as 
Smith  Lee.1 


'“When  Virginia  withdrew  from  the  Union  Smith  Lee  served  the  Southern  Navy  throughout 
the  war.  No  one  who  ever  saw  him  can  forget  his  charming  personality  and  grace  of  manner. 
He  was  popular  with  men  and  beloved  of  women,  to  whom  he  was  ever  chivalrous  and  courte- 
ous. His  service  in  the  United  States  Navy  was  at  a time  of  great  importance.  He  sailed 
through  many  seas,  and  was  with  Commodore  Perry  in  Tanan  when  that  country  was  opened  to 
the  commerce  of  the  world.  He  served  the  South  as  faithfully  and  unselfishly  as  he  had  previ- 
ously served  the  whole  country.  He  died  shortly  after  the  Civil  War,  and  was  buried  in 
Christ  Church  Cemetery  at  the  southwest  of  the  town.”  The  History  of  Old  Alexandria.  Vir- 
ginia, Powell,  1928,  p.  247. 


East  passage  leading  from  the  Great  Hall  to  the  Mother’ s Room. 


THROUGH  CARTER’S  EYES 


299 


Back  again  at  Stratford,  the  affairs  of  the  family  in  the  Great  House 
steadily  became  more  complicated.  Each  year  the  Lees  grew  poorer  and 
their  obligations  greater.  Colonel  Harry’s  former  high  political  offices 
had  always  meant  more  prestige  and  credit  than  cash.  But  scant  as  the 
reimbursement  for  official  services  had  been,  it  had  meant  a certainty 
of  a small  income  more  or  less  regularly.  Now  it  looked  as  if  all 
chance  for  even  this  had  gone. 

Times  must  have  been  equally  hard  for  the  Stratford  tenants.  In  view 
of  Carter’s  account  of  the  dependence  of  these  families  upon  his  parents, 
it  appears  unlikely  that  they  were  able  to  pay  rent  and  that  any  of  the 
various  farms  of  the  Stratford  Plantation  brought  in  an  income  to  help 
sustain  the  estate.  The  steady  planting  of  tobacco  for  generations  had 
impoverished  all  the  arable  lands.  Even  had  there  been  a market  for 
Westmoreland  tobacco,  as  there  was  not  in  the  early  1800’s,  tobacco 
could  scarcely  have  been  grown  at  Stratford  then.  Nor  could  any  other 
saleable  product  in  sufficient  quantity  be  produced  that  would  even 
pay  for  itself.  To  get  money  out  of  Stratford  there  was  need  to  put 
money  into  it.  And  not  a dollar  was  available.  To  "live  on  credit”  was 
the  prevailing  custom  for  many  southern  families,  a custom  execrable 
from  Ann  Lee’s  point  of  view  and  her  rigid  standards,  to  all  of  which  in 
time  her  husband  came  to  subscribe — but  not  until  too  late. 

As  master  of  Stratford,  Harry  Lee  no  doubt  felt  that  he  was  obliged 
to  dispense  hospitality  whether  he  had  an  income  or  not.  Certainly  he 
and  Ann  were  forced,  in  spite  of  themselves,  to  continue  to  carry  re- 
sponsibility for  their  tenants  as  for  their  own  children,  and  some  of 
their  kin.  Probably  not  even  Ann  realized  the  real  situation  of  Harrv 
Lee’s  finances. 

In  this  period  of  his  childhood,  Carter  gives  an  insight  into  the  family 
life  at  Stratford  and  of  his  mother’s  character.  No  denial  was  ever 
given,  Carter  says,  "of  the  favours  solicited  by  the  tenants  at  Stratford 
from  the  family  in  the  Great  House.” 

. . . & I rejoic[e]  now,  though  I sometiemes  grumbled  then,  at  the  part  I had 
to  enact  in  them.  The  tea  & sugar  & light  bread,  or  other  viand  deemed  good 
for  the  patient,  were  considered  safer  in  my  hands  than  in  those  of  the 
servants,  & I was  often  made  the  bearer  of  them.  Besides,  it  was  very  pleasing 
to  my  parents  that  I should  be  their  minister  of  charity.  I can  imagine  how  mv 
mother  was  charmed  to  think  that  what  I wa[s]  doing  to  the  least  of  these  I 
was  doing  unt[o]  Him,  who  did  all  for  us.  And  these  little  missions  though 
often  unwillingly  begun  ended  generally,  if  not  always,  very  pleasantly.  For 
I was  always  affectionately  received,  & usually  rewarded  with  an  egg,  or  sweet 
potato,  roasted  for  me  at  once;  or  with  an  apple  or  peach,  or  some  chestnuts. 


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STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


according  to  the  season  of  my  visi[t],  And  I am  sure  that  these  charities  of 
my  parents,  have  been  visited  in  blessing  on  their  then  unappreciative  agent. 
They  taught  me  early  the  pleasures  of  these  interchanges  of  kindness, — how 
pleasing  it  was  to  make  a heart  glad,  & how  the  reflection  of  that  gladness  on 
one’s  own  heart,  was  sweeter  from  the  poorer,  because  intenser.  Besides  they 
made  me  early  acquainted  with  the  pleasures  of  those  humble  dwellings,  to 
which  I have  been  indebted  for  so  many  of  the  compensations  of  life  in  the 
wilderness.  . . . 

I remember  (how  my  full,  in  affection,  though  half  in  blood,  brother,  Henry 
(nearly  twelve  years  my  senior)  used  to  amuse  himself  with  their  wanton 
violations  of  the  rules  of  grammer,  one  of  which  was  a very  often  reputed 
announcement  of  the  approach  of  a most  interesting  event,  made  in  the  most 
decorous  manner.  In  those  days  the  tenants  did  not  send  for  Doctors  for  their 
sick,  unless  advised  to  do  so  by  the  folks  at  the  Great  House,  to  whom  they 
always  came  first  for  advice  & remidies.  Of  course,  the  first  question  put  by 
my  mother, — for  twas  to  her  they  came  in  my  days,  at  Stratford, — was  'who 
is  sick?”  The  answer  very  often  was,  "My  wife  Madam.”  "Well,  what  is  the 
matter  with  her?”  To  which  the  reply  was,  almost  as  often — "Her  situation 
are  obvious  Madam; — ” which  was  their  delicate  method  of  [telling]  that  his 
dearer  half  was  about  to  encounter  those  perils  of  her  sex,  for  a safe  deliver- 
ance from  which  our  Litany  so  properly  prays. 

[their]  grammatical  blunders  . . . certainly  caused  no  denial  of  the 

favours  solicited.  . . . 

Here  Carter  makes  another  brief  excursion  into  extraneous  matters 
but  comes  back  in  a page  or  two  to  his  mother  and  Stratford: 

I must  recur  to  the  time  when  she  [woman]  was  playing  angel  to  me  as  a 
mother,  & a dear,  bright,  blackeyed  rosy  cheeked  little  sister,  eighteen  months 
younger  than  myself — We  were  devoted  companions  & I remember  the  joys 
we  shared  in  our  first  joint  possession.  It  was  a henhouse,  which  our  mother 
had  built  & stock[ed]  for  us,  & which  was  adorned,  at  our  special  request  with 
a beautiful  white  rumpless  pullet.  O how  clean  we  kept  that  hen-house,  how 
well  we  fed  the  fowls,  & how  delightedly  we  watched  the  first  that  went  in 
to  lay  an  (egg  in  the  nests  we  made  with  our  own  hands!)  And  seldom  had 
we  heard  music  so  delightful  as  the  cackle  with  which  she  announced  the  per- 
formance of  that  to  us,  most  interesting  feat.  And  to  crown  all,  it  was  the 
favourite  rumpless,  which  set  this  excellent  example  to  the  other  pullets,  And 
afterwards,  came  music  even  more  delightful,  & certainly  more  tender,  in  the 
chirp  of  the  first  chicken,  with  its  head  scarcely  protruded  from  its  shell. 
Wordsworth’s  "Curious  child,  who  dwelt  upon  a tract,  of  island  ground,” 
when  he  placed  "at  his  ear  The  convolutions  of  a smooth-lipped  shell,”  & 
thought  he  discovered  in  its  "sonorous  cadences”  "Mysterious  union  with  its 
native  sea,”  yet  found  no  such  joy  in  these  fancied  voices  of  its  mighty  mother, 
as  we  did  in  the  chirps  of  that  chicken  in  his  natal  shell.  But  I cannot  add — - 
with  Wordsworth;  "Even  such  a shell  the  universe  itself  is  to  the  ear  of  faith.” 
Our  little  chicken-case  told  nothing  to  the  ear  of  our  simple  faith,  except  that 
about  a dozen  more  pipped  ones  would  soon  release  the  heads  of  their  little 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


301 


captives,  to  swell  their  first  born  notes  into  a chorus,  more  & more  to  charm  us. 

. . . Of  course,  my  darling  sister  & myself  had  no  reflections  of  this  kind, 
but  rejoiced  in  the  "rattle”  & were  "tickled  with  the  straw,”  which  as  gifts 
appropriate  to  our  ages,  of  divine  love,  were  talismans  of  delight. 

Carter  refers  to  the  visits  they  received  from  the  Carters  and  other 
neighbors  in  their  coaches  and  four: 

...  1 suppose  such  visits  made  greater  sensations  then  on  the  children  of 
the  households  than  now,  because  of  the  ' good  things”  the  children  were  then 
allowed  to  have  only  a taste  of.  In  these  times  of  the  sinful  indulgence  of 
parents  to  every  whim  of  their  children,  it  will  scarcely  be  believed  that  in  my 
childhood,  they  were  never  allowed  to  ask  for  any  thing  at  table,  under 
the  penalty  of  never  having  what  they  asked  for.  At  Shirley,  where  there  was 
always  a crowd  of  children,  in  my  childhood  there,  we  sat  at  a side  table,  & the 
food  deemed  best  for  us  was  sent  to  us.  After  that  was  dispatched,  we  were 
asked  what  we  would  have,  & if  not  injurious,  it  was  given  to  us;  but  it  was  a 
well  established  & well  known  rule  that  if  we  cried  for  any  thing  we  should 
never  have  it.  ’Twas  early  instilled  into  us  that  momentary  enjoyment  was 
never  to  be  indulged  in  at  the  expense  of  permanent  good.  What  was  best 
for  us  was  more  regarded  than  what  was  most  agreeable  to  us.  Over  indulgence 
subjected  its  unfortunate  subject,  not  only  to  the  normal  effects  of  it,  but  to  the 

almost  as  normal  consequence,  ridicule "Honour  thy  father  & thy 

mother”  were  not  then  mere  words  to  be  idly  repeated  in  the  Catacism  every 
Sunday,  but  the  fifth  in  the  commandments  of  God,  & the  next  in  sanctity,  as 
the  next  in  order,  to  those  more  immediately  concerning  Himself.  Is  it  then  so 
wonderful  that  our  Revolutionary  worthies,  being  thus  brought  up,  with  Wash- 
ington at  their  head,  should  have  been  so  wonderfully  good  as  well  as  great? 

Nor  did  this  discipline,  which  would  now  seem  so  harsh  diminish,  but  greatly 
increased  the  enjoyments  of  its  subjects.  What  the  children  called  good 
things,”  were  then  rarities,  & were  proportionately  enjoyed.  Now  they  are  so 
common,  & the  little  dyspeptics  (made  such  by  extravagant  indulgence  in  them) 
are  so  cloyed  with  their  sweets,  that  they  have  lost  their  savour  to  a great  ex- 
tent. But  during  my  childhood,  when  company  came  to  Stratford,  the  good 
things”  added  to  our  ordinary  fare,  especially  in  the  way  of  "desserts,”  were 
very  charming  to  the  children.  And  the  new  faces  & affectionate  greetings  of 
our  visitors  received  an  additional  charm  from  their  comparative  rarity,  & the 
livery  of  their  servants  & beautiful  gaiety  of  their  horses,  were  to  us  in  our 
retired  lives,  almost  what  Circuses  & Operas  are  to  the  prematurely  blazeed 
Juviniles  of  our  large  cities. 

In  those  early  days  I learned  to  play  chess.  My  father  & mother  were  pro- 
ficient in  the  game,  & I was  so  absorbed  in  its  attractions,  as  to  forget  the 
pain  attendant  upon  shedding  my  first  teeth,  while  playing  it,  & my  father  & 
mother  were  fond  of  adminstering  this  intellectual  remedy  for  that  physical 
pain.  The  consequence  was  that  I became  such  an  adept  at  the  game,  that  I 
could  not  bear  to  play  with  such  inferior  players,  as  were  habitual  visitors  at 
Stratford.  One  of  them,  therefore,  paid  me  to  play  with  him,  & others  bet  at 
the  game  with  me,  the  sums  that  such  payments  enabled  me  to  stake.  The 


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STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


consequence  was  that,  the  very  first  day  of  this  gambling,  I went  triumphantly 
to  my  mother,  with  a handful  of  coppers  & fourpences,  boasting  of  the  earnings 
of  my  superior  skill.  But  what  was  my  mortification,  to  be  met  with  a preremp- 
tory  order  of  my  mother,  to  return  instantly  to  the  loosers  all  my  spoils, — my 
”s  polio”  prima,  if  not  "opinio” — as  wages  of  iniquity  which  I must  never  touch 
as  long  as  I lived.  The  gentlemen  remonstrated  when  they  met  my  mother, — 
saying  that  they  paid  very  cheaply  for  instruction  in  a game,  which  they  were 
anxious  to  learn,  & which  I was  so  well  able  to  teach  them;  but  my  pious  mother 
was  inexorable — -"Gentlemen,  I wish  my  son  never  to  bet.” 

Besides  recording  in  prose,  descriptions  of  certain  of  the  architectural 
features  of  Stratford  Hall  and  giving  his  childhood  impressions  and 
recollections  of  the  place  and  events  of  the  family  history,  Carter  Lee 
also  wrote  of  them  in  verse.  Through  his  maze  of  awkward  rhyme  it  is 
possible  to  see  actual  details  of  life  at  Stratford  and  exact  pictures  of  the 
grandeur  and  beauty  of  the  place.  He  versifies  berry  picking  with  his 
sister  Ann; 

Yes  even  now,  methinks  I see 

My  sister,  busy  as  the  bee 

In  picking  from  the  wild  vine,  berries; 

Her  cheeks  in  colour,  like  the  cherries, 

Her  bonnet  fixed  with  many  a pin 
Lest  the  warm  sun  should  tinge  her  skin, 

Which  glowed  as  alabaster  white, 

More  lovely  for  her  black  eyes’  light. 

We  boys  without  our  hats  would  run, 

All  careless  of  the  burning  sun, 

Barefooted  over  stone  & briar 
Through  scorching  sand,  or  mud  & mire, 

And  every  one  ashamed  would  be, 

To  ask  the  others,  'wit  for  me’! 

Happy,  Happy  then  were  we! 

Our  father’s  & our  mother’s  joys, 

Their  daughter  fair,  & sunburnt  boys  . . . 

He  described  "sweet  Stratford’s  woodland  scenes,”  the  play  of  the 
squirrels  in  the  "luxuriant  length”  of  the  green  boughs,  the  mourning 
of  the  turtle  dove,  the  scream  of  the  eagle  on  the  cliffs,  the  howl  of  the 
wolf.  He  tells  of  "flower  enameled  lands,”  "sunny  lanes,”  "forest’s 
shades,”  the  streams,  and  the  far  sound  of  the  waterfall — all  of  which 
are  clear  and  faithful  transcriptions  of  the  place. 

2 

Carter’s  bright  picture  of  life  in  the  Great  House  is  that  seen  through 
a small  boy’s  eyes.  His  parents  were  facing  one  far  different.  The  in- 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


303 


ability  of  Robert  Morris  to  repay  the  forty  thousand  dollars  Lee  had  lent 
him  so  long  before,  brought  its  logical  train  of  tragic  consequences  to 
Lee  and  his  family.  Obligations  pledged  from  this  expected  fund  could 
not  be  met  by  Lee,  and  thus  he  became  publicly  discredited.  He  had  no 
money  with  which  to  pay  bills,  notes  to  friends  and  relatives,  or  taxes 
on  his  large  and  widely  scattered  properties.  Deed  after  deed  for  sales 
was  brought  to  Ann  for  her  signature  in  her  husband’s  frantic  and  often 
ill-judged  efforts  to  sell,  mortgage,  trade  or  convey  such  lands  and 
houses  as  were  left  him  in  order  to  secure  cash  to  keep  his  family  from 
want.  Stratford  and  the  Loudoun  County  lands  alone  he  could  not 
touch.  The  Great  House  was  his  home  for  as  long  as  he  lived,  but  he 
had  a life  interest  only.  Matilda’s  son,  Henry,  was  the  legal  heir. 

Among  many  parcels  of  land  sold  at  a sacrifice,  Thomas  Boyd  men- 
tions the  hundred  acres  of  valuable  property  within  the  District  of 
Richmond  in  Henrico  County.  He  records  how  in  July,  1803,  when  a 
note  of  fifteen  thousand  dollars  came  due  to  Alexander  Spotswood  for 
land,  Lee  was  without  funds  to  pay  it.  And  Spotswood  sued  him  at 
Spotsylvania  Courthouse,  where  it  was  ordered  that  Lee  produce  the 
sum  of  ӣ3231. 19s  with  interest  at  5 per  centum  per  annum  from  July 
1,  1802,  till  paid  on  or  before  December  1 Next”  or  be  "barred  and 
foreclosed  from  all  equity  of  redemption  in  the  mortgage.”2 

Exact  details  of  Harry  Lee’s  dire  financial  straits  at  this  time  are 
related  by  Thomas  Boyd.  Repairs  could  not  be  made  on  the  Great  House 
or  its  outbuildings,  the  stables,  or  the  garden  walls.  This  was  perhaps 
the  period  when  the  building  in  the  west  area,  conjectured  to  be  the 
orangery,  disappeared. 

One  financial  disaster  after  another  crept  upon  the  master  of  Strat- 
ford. He  was  fast  being  driven  to  the  edge  of  the  precipice.  Worst  of 
all,  to  his  mind,  must  have  been  the  fact  that  his  wife  and  their  three 
children  were  being  thrust  there  with  him  and  he  had  to  stand  by  help- 
less. He  had  come  to  have  a deep  regard  and  affection  for  Ann,  and 
he  was  intensely  devoted  to  his  children.  During  that  entire  first  decade 
of  the  nineteenth  century  Harry  Lee’s  actions  were  like  those  of  a blind 
man  in  despair.  Over  and  over  again  men  placed  as  he  was  have  found 
suicide  the  only  way  out. 

Such  a state  of  affairs  had  its  inevitable  reaction  upon  Ann  Lee. 
Always  frail,  she  was  fast  declining  into  chronic  invalidism.  She  became 
subject  to  fainting  spells,  when  she  would  lose  consciousness  for  hours 


2Boyd,  Light  Horse  Harry  Lee,  1931 


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STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


at  a time.  This  evidently  gave  rise  to  an  erroneous  report,  first  published 
in  Premature  Burial,  that  in  one  of  her  fainting  spells  Ann  was  pro- 
nounced dead  by  the  physician,  was  buried  alive  in  the  vault  at  Strat- 
ford, but  shortly  thereafter  rescued  "from  her  perilous  position  and  a 
horrible  fate.” 

"Had  such  a circumstance  occurred,”  says  Mildred  Lee  Francis,  "the 
family  would  have  known  of  it  and  there  would  have  been  some  men- 
tion of  it  in  the  Westmoreland  County  records.”  Ann’s  "death”  would 
have  been  placed  on  record;  notice  of  the  funeral  would  have  appeared; 
word  of  it  would  occur  in  family  letters  or  documents.3 

i i i i 

On  May  10,  1803,  Ann  Lee  writes  in  a melancholy  vein  to  Mrs.  Rich- 
ard Bland  Lee: 

. . . my  mind  often  recurs  to  you  with  mingled  sensations  of  pleasure  and 
regret. — Formerly  when  separated  from  you,  I constantly  looked  forward  to 
the  period  when  I should  again  enjoy  your  society;  but  the  pleasing  anticipation 
no  longer  cheers  my  future  prospects,  and  I consider  you  among  the  number  of 
those  dear  friends  whom  fate  has  probably  for  ever  severed  me  from — But 
while  I lament  its  award,  you  will  remain  the  cherished  friend  of  my  heart, 
united  to  it,  by  ties  too  strong  for  time  or  absence  to  weaken.4 

In  this  same  letter  Ann  refers  to  her  affliction  of  "dropsy.”  It  is  the 
only  instance  she  mentions  this  or  any  illness  by  specific  name.  It  was 
characteristic  of  Ann  Lee  never  to  complain  of  her  troubles,  though  she 
frequently  deplored  her  poor  state  of  health. 

In  her  letter  of  May  3,  1804,  to  Elizabeth  Lee  she  says,  "I  am  much  of 
an  invalid.”  In  December  of  this  same  year  there  is  a wistful  expression: 

...  I have  always  felt  a particular  desire  that  my  Children  should  form 
an  intimacy  with  the  offspring  of  those,  whose  friendship  has  most  advanced 
my  happiness:  and  in  wishing  its  commencement  in  childhood.  I adopt  the 
prevailing  sentiments;  tho’  from  the  testimony  of  my  own  heart  I am  taught 
that  the  union  of  congenial  minds  will  be  as  lasting  formed  in  the  meridian 
of  life. 

From  your  letters  only  I receive  intelligence  of  friends  I very  much  love.  A 
passing  acquaintance  sometimes  informs  me  that  you  are  all  well,  but  to  a heart 
as  tenderly  attached  as  mine  is  to  yourself,  and  several  others,  to  whom  your 
better  fortune  has  placed  you  nearer,  such  information  is  not  sufficiently  minute 
to  render  it  satisfactory.  . . . 

How  are  the  dear  Children?  are  they  much  grown?  is  my  god  daughter  as 

3Aside  from  the  brief  statement  in  Premature  Burial,  Tebb,  Vollum,  and  Hadwen,  second 
edition,  page  45  (Swan,  Sonnenscheim  & Co.,  Limited,  London,  1905),  sensational  accounts 
appear  currently  in  various  newspapers  which  have  been  traced  by  the  author  to  fictitious 
sources.  They  have  no  foundation  in  fact. 

4Bland  Papers,  Library  of  Congress. 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


305 


amiable  and  pretty  as  when  I saw  her?  and  does  her  sister  preserve  her  su- 
periority in  point  of  beauty?  I suppose  Ann  Matilda  reads  very  well.  I often 
excite  my  Childrens  emulation  by  reminding  them  how  prettily  she  repeated 
"The  little  busy  bee” — Carter  begs  I will  send  her  a piece  of  poetry  he  has 
committed  to  memory,  which  he  says  she  will  certainly  prefer  to  The  busy 
bee” — 

In  January,  1805,  Ann  Lee  again  speaks  of  "being  much  indisposed.” 
Her  philosophy  of  life  and  her  dread  of  being  pitied  by  anyone  are 
clearly  indicated  in  this  letter  to  her  favorite  brother,  Robert  Carter, 
who  has  just  returned  from  abroad: 

Stratford  October  Is*  1805 

I hope  my  dearest  Brother  has  not  supposed  that  his  illness  has  caused  me 
less  affliction  than  his  other  friends,  from  my  not  having  expressed  it  to  him, 
for  I must  ever  believe  my  regret  to  be  more  poignant  than  any  other  persons, 
our  Parents  excepted — - 

But  having  been  so  often  an  invalid,  I imagine  myself  adequate  to  judging 
of  the  feelings  of  those  in  a similar  situation,  and  nothing  at  those  periods 
excited  more  painful  sensations,  than  letters  of  condolence  from  affectionate 
friends. 

Your  return  to  America  was  one  of  the  events  I anticipated  the  greatest 
happiness  from,  that  happiness  is  destroyed  by  your  ill  health,  but  I hope  my 
beloved  Brother  it  will  soon  be  realized  by  your  complete  recovery. 

I wish  so  anxiously  to  see  you,  that  trifling  difficulties  shall  not  prevent  my 
being  gratified,  as  soon  after  Mr-  Lee’s  return  from  the  upper  Country,  as  we 
can  make  arrangements  for  the  journey,  and  I implore  my  Heavenly  Father, 
that  I may  find  you,  my  best  beloved  Brother  daily  progressing  in  health! 

Ann  Lee.5 

Templemans  X Roads 

l4t  Octor 

[Addressed:]  Dr  Robert  Carter 
Viz  City  Point  Shirley. 

The  arrangements  for  the  journey  to  Shirley  to  which  Ann  so  looked 
forward  in  this  letter  apparently  did  not  materialize  for  nearly  ten  long 
months.  With  late  June  of  the  following  year,  1806,  in  the  midst  of  a 
deadly  heat,  Ann  set  forth  from  Stratford,  taking  Carter,  Ann,  and 
Smith,  who  was  sadly  ailing,  for  this  longed-for  visit  to  her  old  home. 

It  was  as  if  one  of  the  plagues  of  Egypt  had  withered  the  land.  For 
months  there  had  been  no  rain.  The  leaves  of  the  giant  beeches  shadow- 
ing the  east  wing  at  Stratford  had  shriveled,  the  box  had  burned  to  a 
crisp,  the  vegetables  were  but  leafless  stalks,  the  fruit  trees  blighted 
and  the  flowers  vanished.  Most  of  the  streams  in  Stratford’s  forest  had 

Tarter  Manuscript,  contributed  to  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation.  Inc.,  by  The  Na- 
tional Society  of  the  Colonial  Dames  in  Virginia. 


306  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

disappeared  and  many  of  its  springs  gone  dry.  The  savage  drought  ate 
up  the  fields  and  forests  of  Westmoreland  and  all  the  other  counties  of 
the  Northern  Neck.  Famine  was  in  prospect  for  many  hundreds  of 
people.  The  Lees’  rickety  carriage  passed  slowly  on  in  swirling,  suffocat- 
ing dust  through  fields  of  parched  corn  and  wide  expanses  of  wheat, 
oats  and  barley  burned  to  dry  wisps  of  straw.  The  wide  lands  between 
the  Potomac  and  the  Rappahannock,  usually  so  fertile,  were  like  desert 
soil. 

But  in  the  region  of  the  river  James,  so  went  report,  there  was  no 
drought.  On  its  sloping  green  banks,  close  to  the  sparkle  of  the  river, 
with  bowers  of  trees  and  vines  and  roses,  Shirley  would  be  for  them 
like  an  oasis  in  the  Sahara.  In  far  more  ways  than  even  these,  Ann  must 
have  thought  her  blessed  home  would  bring  comfort  to  her  tired  heart. 
There  would  be  much,  too,  to  tell  her  dear  father  that  could  never  be 
put  in  a letter,  and  he  would  see  that  their  broken  circumstances  were 
mended. 

But  at  Shirley,  for  the  first  time  in  all  Ann’s  life,  grief  met  them.  She 
tells  of  it  herself  in  a letter  unknown  till  now: 

Shirley  July  6th  1806 

Before  I arrived  at  this  place,  the  arms  which  had  ever  received  me  with  so 
much  delight,  were  folded  in  death ! the  eyes  which  used  to  beam  with  so  much 
affection  on  me,  were  veiled  for  ever!  and  the  cold  grave  was  closed  on  my  too 
dear  and  ever  lamented  Father! 

It  would  be  vain,  to  attempt  t[o]  describe  the  grief,  his  loss  has  occasioned 
me,  it  is  greater  than  I can  express,  and  will  only  cease  with  my  existence! 

Shirley,  so  lately  the  scene  of  happiness  and  gayety,  is  now,  literally  the 
House  of  mourning!  We  all  feel,  that  our  best  hopes  are  buried  in  the  grave 
of  our  blessed,  and  dearly  beloved  f[rfiend. — Oh!  my  dearest  Mr-  Lee  remem- 
ber, that  your  poor  afflicted  Fatherless  wife,  can  now,  only  look  to  you,  to 
smooth  her  rugged  path  through  life,  and  soften  her  bed  of  death ! 

My  poor  dear  Mother  is  bowed  down  with  sorrow,  and  in  very  low  health: 
a change  of  scene  and  climate,  appears  to  be  entirely  necessary  to  her  recovery: 
and  I really  fear  my  dear,  my  being  here,  will  prove  an  obstacle  to  her  early 
removal — The  last  week  in  this  month,  is  fixed  on  for  her  leaving  home:  I trust 
my  dear  Mr-  Lee  you  will  certainly  bring  a conveyance  for  me  by  that  time, 
do  not  disappoint  me  I conjure  you — I wish  to  see  you  too,  on  account  of  our 
unfortunate  little  Smith;  his  situation  I think,  most  deplorable — If  something 
is  not  done  for  him  immediately,  his  life  I am  convinced,  will  be  a burden  to 
him — The  four  Physicians  who  have  examined  him,  confess  they  are  doubtful 
what  his  complaint  is — It  has  increased  extremely  since  you  saw  him — He 
should  be  placed  with  a skillful  Physician,  who  would  examine  him  daily,  and 
thereby  discover  his  disease — Carter  has  been  very  sick,  and  looks  badly  indeed. 
— Let  me  hear  from  you  immediatly,  and  forget  not  my  dearest  Mr-  Lee,  to 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


307 


guard  your  health  with  more  care,  than  you  have  for  several  years  past — your 
life  is  more  important  to  your  poor  wife  & children  now,  than  ever  it  was:  their 
other  protector  is  taken  from  them,  for  ever  and  for  ever!8 

Ann  Lee. 

Do  not  forget  I entreat  you,  to  write  for  Betty  in  the  most  pressing  manner, 
to  join  me  here  immediately.  A.  L. 

[Endorsed  in  another  hand:} 

From  my 
Dear  wife; 

(her  fathers 
death) 

3 

Ann’s  father  had  been  her  first  and  her  best  friend,  and  his  loss  to  her 
was  irreparable.  Years  after  her  own  death,  this  printed  notice  of  his 
passing  was  found  among  her  papers: 

Died  on  Saturday  the  28 — Charles  Carter  Esqr-  of  Shirley — aged  seventy 
years.  His  long  and  prosperous  life  was  spent  in  the  tranquil  enjoyment  of 
Domestic  Life — where  from  the  Mansion  of  hospitality  his  immense  wealth 
flowed  like  the  silent  stream,  enlivening  and  refreshing  every  object  around — - 
In  fulfilling  the  duties  of  his  station  he  proved  himself  to  be  an  Israelite  indeed, 
in  whom  there  was  no  guile  He  is  now  gone  to  receive  from  the  Saviour  of 
Mankind  the  blissful  salutation — "Come  thou  blessed  of  my  Father;  inherit 
the  Kingdom  prepared  for  you  from  the  foundation  of  the  World  for  I was  a 
stranger  and  you  took  me  in — naked  and  you  clothed  me — sick  and  in  Prison, 
and  you  ministered  unto  me — ” 

Ann  remained  at  Shirley  with  her  children  for  several  months.  Ap- 
parently the  carriage  in  which  she  had  come  from  Westmoreland  had 
broken  down,  and  it  was  the  last  vehicle  in  the  impressive  coach  house 
at  Stratford.  Doubtless  the  rest  had  long  since  been  seized  by  creditors. 
In  November  Ann  and  her  mother  were  spending  a few  days  with  the 
Walkers  at  Belvoir  and  she  wrote  Mrs.  Richard  Bland  Lee: 

I am  happy  my  dear  friend  in  once  more  having  an  opportunity  of  tendering 
you  my  most  affectionate  regards.  When  I left  Stratford,  one  of  the  most 
pleasing  objects  of  my  Summer  excursion,  was  to  pass  a few  weeks  with  you: 
but  alas!  the  afflicting  event  which  awaited  my  arrival  at  Shirley,  made  an  entire 
change  in  my  plans,  and  suspended  every  inclination,  but  that  of  enjoying  the 
presence  of  my  only  Parent. 

When  my  Mother  quitted  this  place,  I should  certainly  have  visited  my  Sister 
Randolph,  and  from  thence  hastened  to  Sully;  again  to  have  possessed  the 
happiness  of  seeing  you,  which  I have  so  long  desired:  but  the  want  of  a car- 
riage has  been  the  obstacle  to  my  enjoying  so  great  a gratification:  and  now 
when  I get  one,  the  Season  will  be  so  far  advanced  that  I must  return  home 

“Original  letter  from  Ann  Lee  to  her  husband,  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Inc. 


308  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

by  the  most  direct  rout.  May  I not  my  dear  friend  when  there,  calculate  on 
seeing  you  in  the  course  of  the  winter  ? I know  not  whether  you  have  a carriage, 
but  should  I get  one  (which  is  somewhat  doubtful)  it  can  never  be  appro- 
priated more  to  my  satisfaction,  than  in  conveying  yourself  and  dear  family, 
to  our  poor  old  dwelling.  . . . 

Stratford  had  become  "our  poor  old  dwelling”!  It  was  not  until  after 
Christmas  that  Colonel  Harry  succeeded  in  getting  a conveyance  to 
bring  his  family  home,  and  then  but  an  open  carriage.  How  cold  must 
have  been  the  tedious  jolting  drive  back  to  Stratford,  and  how  bleak 
and  cheerless  the  Great  House  when  finally  they  arrived!  Ann  took 
a severe  cold  from  which  she  did  not  recover  for  months.  The  Great 
Hall  was  seldom  used  in  winter.  Even  with  the  charcoal  braziers  it  could 
not  be  made  comfortable.  Only  in  the  east  wing  were  the  rooms 
habitable.  On  the  north  side  of  this  wing  was  the  dining  room  and 
pantry,  where  the  family  could  be  served  from  the  kitchen  outside.  In 
this  same  wing,  was  the  large  southeast  chamber  which  looked  out  on 
the  beech  trees  and  the  garden  and  toward  the  south  front  of  the  man- 
sion. Here  a log  fire  burned,  and  on  sunny  days  the  warmth  streamed 
through  the  many-paned  windows.  Here  Ann  and  the  children  lived 
and  here  were  the  preparations  being  made  for  the  new  baby  coming  so 
soon.  Meagre  enough,  no  doubt. 

But  with  Carter  and  little  Ann  and  Smith  close  by,  full  of  their  own 
particular  joys  in  being  back  at  Stratford,  yet  probably  bubbling  over 
with  recollections  of  the  fun  they  had  had  at  Shirley,  and  with  Betty  at 
hand  to  wait  on  her,  undoubtedly  there  were  some  recompenses  for 
Ann  Lee  in  those  first  drear  days  of  early  January  of  the  year  1807. 

Mrs.  Richard  Bland  Lee  was  then  in  Philadelphia  for  the  winter.  On 
January  11th  Ann  wrote  her  from  Stratford  a letter  containing  this  fre- 
quently quoted  passage: 

That  part  of  your  letter  which  relates  to  your  expecting  another  son  shortly, 
is  so  defaced  by  the  seal,  that  I cannot  understand  it;  I applied  to  your  husband 
for  an  explanation,  and  from  his  answer,  I suppose  he  also  has  reason  for  such 
an  expectation — You  have  my  best  wishes  for  your  success  my  dear,  and 
truest  assurances , that  I do  not  envy  your  prospect , nor  wish  to  share  in  them. 

Not  even  to  this  intimate  friend,  who  was  herself  an  expectant 
mother,  would  Ann  Lee  reveal  the  facts  about  her  own  situation.  Per- 
haps under  the  existing  conditions  there  were  no  words  for  it.  How 
could  another  child  be  received  at  Stratford  with  gratitude  and  rejoic- 
ing? Eight  days  aften  Ann  wrote  this  letter,  her  baby — a son — was  born, 
January  19,  1807.  He  v/as  her  fifth  child.  She  named  him  Robert  Ed- 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


309 


ward,  after  the  two  brothers  she  loved  most,  Robert  and  Edward  Carter 
of  Shirley. 

Some  three  generations  before  in  this  same  room  where  Robert  E.  Lee, 
Ann’s  last  son,  was  born,  his  father’s  patriot  kinsmen  had  also  come  into 
the  world:  Richard  Henry,  Francis  Lightfoot,  and  William  and  Arthur 
Lee.7  This  southeast  chamber  was  always  the  Mother’s  Room  of  Strat- 
ford Hall.  Hannah  Ludwell  Lee,  the  first  mistress  of  the  house  and 
the  mother  of  the  revolutionary  patriots;  Elizabeth  Steptoe,  wife  of 
Philip  Ludwell  Lee,  and  her  daughter,  the  Divine  Matilda — these  three 
women  had  each  occupied  this  room  in  the  years  before  Ann.  And 
the  youngest  of  the  Lee  children  always  slept  in  the  nursery  adjoining. 

When  Robert  Edward  was  about  seven  weeks  old,  his  mother  wrote 
to  Richard  Bland  Lee,  who  was  as  deeply  concerned  as  his  wife  about 
Ann  and  about  his  brother’s  financial  difficulties.  But  not  even  from 
these  devoted  friends  and  relations  could  Ann  Lee  bring  herself  to 
accept  favors: 

Stratford  March  12th  1807 

My  dear  Sir: 

I feel  extremely  indebted  to  you  for  the  interest  you  manifest  in  my  welfare 
— My  Mother  has  an  objection  to  vesting  her  money  in  negroes,  having  already 
more  of  that  kind  of  property  than  she  wishes  for:  and  I should  feel  great  re- 
luctance in  proposing  to  her  the  plan  suggested  by  your  friendship  for  me,  as 
my  Ott'n  benefit  is  the  principal  object  of  its  design. 

I am  nevertheless  my  dear  Sir,  fully  sensible  of  your  kindness,  in  contem- 
plating which,  my  mind  most  forcibly  reverts,  to  the  numerous  obligations  you 
have  confered  on  my  family,  which  have  extended  their  influence  to  me,  and 
left  on  my  heart  an  impression  of  gratitude  and  affection,  which  death  only 
can  obliterate.  I hope  my  dear  Sir,  you  will  not  feel  any  farther  uneasiness, 
from  our  being  deprived  of  John  & his  family:  I assure  you  I have  long  since 
ceased  to  regret  such  privations.  I have  just  received  intelligence,  that  the 
darling  Sister  of  my  heart  (Mildred)  is  following  rapidly,  my  ever  lamented 
Father  & Brother  to  the  tomb!  in  such  heavy  calamities,  with  which  I have  been 
sorely  oppressed  for  the  last  sixteen  months,  all  lesser  ills  are  absorbed. 

Please  to  assure  my  dear  friend  Mrs-  Lee,  of  my  unvarying  affection:  and 
accept  dear  Sir,  the  highest  esteem,  and  most  affectionate  regards,  of  your 
sincere  friend8 

Ann  Lee. 


7“.  . . But  the  house  [Stratford]  is  more  remarkable  for  being  the  birthplace  of  two  of  the 
signers  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  and  also  of  my  brother  Robert,  who  was  born  in 
the  same  chamber  as  they  were.”  Genealogical  History  of  the  Lee  Family  of  Virginia  and 
Maryland  from  A.D.  1300  to  A.D.  1866.  With  notes  and  illustrations:  edited  by  Edward  C. 
Mead.  New  York,  Richardson  and  Company,  1868. 

8Bland  Papers,  T.ibrarv  of  Congress. 


Guardian  angels  of  the  Nursery  at  Stratford. 


THROUGH  CARTER'S  EYES 


311 


There  are  two  endorsements  as  follows: 

Mrs.  H.  Lee 
March  11.  1807. 

Westmoreland  Co  VA 
March  16  1807. 

Addressed:  Richard  B.  Lee  Esquire 
Philadelphia, 

Pennsylvania 

i i i i 

The  winter  passed.  In  the  nursery  at  Stratford  the  baby  slept,  warm 
and  comfortable,  in  his  swinging  cradle.  The  two  tiny  winged  cherubs 
carved  on  the  iron  fireback  of  the  little  fireplace  there,  guarded  him — so 
Carter  may  have  thought — while  he  slept.  With  the  early  spring  there 
came,  like  the  quality  of  mercy,  the  gentle  rains  from  heaven  upon  the 
earth  beneath.  Softly  falling  rains,  unceasing  rains  by  night,  prayed  for 
in  vain  the  year  before.  And  the  sun  shone  by  day.  So  the  streams 
gushed  forth  again;  the  fields,  parched  in  the  long  drought,  revived; 
crops  were  rich  and  plentiful.  Once  more  the  people  had  the  necessities 
of  life,  and  everywhere  distress  was  relieved.  A wealth  of  fruit  blossoms 
blew  over  Stratford  in  March  and  April,  and  over  the  other  plantations 
and  farms  of  Westmoreland  County  near  and  far.  The  land  between 
the  two  rivers,  last  year  a desert,  once  more  was  lush  and  green. 

So  bright  were  the  new  days  and  months  that  throughout  this  land  a 
formal  Thanksgiving  was  proclaimed  for  the  blessed  year,  1807.9 


’See  Supplementary  Records:  Annals  of  Westmoreland  County,  1806-1807. 


CHAPTER  XVI:  STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATFORD 

HALL 


1 

A FTER  the  birth  of  Robert,  business  troubles  and  anxieties  con- 
tinued  to  press  harder  than  ever  upon  his  father.  Yet  Colonel 
JL  jL  Harry  apparently  gave  much  thought  and  time  to  the  education 
and  training  of  bis  sons — "my  dear  boys”  he  called  them.  This  is  evi- 
dent from  his  letters  to  Ann  and  Carter  as  well  as  from  Carter’s  own 
memoirs. 

Referring  to  this  period,  Harry  Lee  says  to  Ann  that  when  "with  my 
dear  boys  I as  anxiously  inculcated  by  precept  & example  . . . the 
wisdom  of  the  habit  of  rising  early  & going  to  bed  early,  as  the  first 
cannot  be  practised  without  the  last.  The  great  english  statesman  & 
orator  Earl  Chatham,  stresses  this  habit  strenuously — these  are  his  words 
'if  you  do  not  rise  early,  you  never  can  make  any  progress  worth  talking 
of[’];  & another  rule  is,  if  you  do  not  set  apart  your  hours  of  reading, 
& never  suffer  y.r  self  or  any  one  else  to  break  in  upon  them,  your  days 
will  slip  through  your  hands  unprofitably  & frivolously  unpraised  by  all 
you  wish  to  please  & really  unenjoyable  to  yrself” — The  great  american 
soldier  & statesman  always  rose  with  or  before  the  day,  & told  me  him- 
self, that  had  he  not  happily  been  from  early  life  accustomed  to  rise 
early,  he  never  could  have  executed  the  dutys  which  devolved  on  him 
in  the  course  of  life.”1 

Colonel  Harry  may  have  faced  quite  suddenly  the  realization  that, 
with  four  sons  to  pattern  themselves  after  him,  he  must  needs  mend  his 
own  irregular  habits.  He  seems  to  have  had  more  human  faults  and 
frailties  than  other  Lees.  He  may  have  been  at  times  more  "convivial” 
than  they  (excepting  for  the  one  instance  recorded  by  John  Adams  of 
Richard  Henry’s  being  "high” ) . Possibly  he  swore  on  occasions  as  Alice 
Lee  says  he  did.  If  so,  he  stopped  it.  Carter  declares  he  never  heard  his 
father  utter  an  oath.  Perhaps  he  gambled.  Few  gentlemen  of  his  day 
did  not.  In  any  event,  Colonel  Harry  took  good  care  to  exhort  his  sons 
against  the  contraction  of  debts  and  to  support  Ann  in  her  dictum:  "I 
wish  my  son  never  to  bet.” 

Their  father  saw  to  it  that  his  boys  learned  to  shoot  and  to  ride,  and 
gave  a gun  and  a horse  to  Henry,  Carter  and  Smith  before  they  were  ten 
years  old.  It  appears  that  at  this  time  Colonel  Harry  assumed  his  didactic 
role:  determined  to  be  "an  example”  to  his  sons — to  instill  in  them 
"good  habits  and  high  principles  of  conduct  and  of  speech.”  In  order  to 


1 Henry  Lee  to  Ann  Lee,  September  3.  1813:  MS.,  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation 
[312] 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATEORD  HALL 


313 


be  on  perfectly  safe  ground,  he  therefore  started  out  by  rigorously  train- 
ing them  to  do  everything  their  mother  said.  At  least  Ann  would  always 
be  right. 

From  his  later  letters  to  his  wife  it  is  evident  that  they  had  a mutual 
interest  and  concern  in  building  their  children’s  character,  and  that  they 
frequently  had  long  discussions  about  this  and  other  abstract  subjects: 

Learning  only  becomes  most  valuable  & is  by  me  only  wished  for  my  chil- 
dren; to  open  to  their  view  the  charms  of  virtue  & to  bind  themste[a]dfastlyto 
its  practice  in  word  & deed.  To  be  virtuous — reason  & experience  tell  us  we 
must  be  religious — Hold  fast  yourself  (&  inculcate  on  your  brother  to  do  like) 
this  sheet  anchor  of  happiness,  this  cititadel  [citadel]  in  the  perils  & tempests  of 
life — Cherish  it  fondly  & abhor  its  two  great  enemys  superstition  & enthusiasm. 
What  I understand  to  be  pure  religion  is  a heart  void  of  offence  to  God  & man  & 
a belief  or  faith  in  one  God  who  delights  in  right  & reproves  wrong — the  forms 
& ceremonys  of  religion  differ,  but  in  essence  they  all  worship  the  almighty 
Creator  & rest  on  his  providence  & protection  here  & hereafter — among  the 
ancients  I would  select  for  my  sons  reading  Cicero  de  Nature  Deorum  & Plato 
- — among  the  moderns  the  history  of  jesus  Christ  commonly  called  the  new 
testament,  especially  its  four  first  books. 

Whether  Christ  was  an  inspir[ed]  man  as  some  beleive,  or  the  son  of  God  as 
Christians  assert  & some  of  them  beleive,  all  must  acknowledge  the  excellence 
of  the  morality  he  taught  & wish  its  spread  for  the  good  of  mankind — 

As  to  the  sects  with  us,  I cannot  help  thinking  the  Quaker  mode  of  worship 
most  expressive  of  mans  humility  & therefore  to  be  preferred. 

In  silence  they  adore  God,  to  whom  the  tongue  of  man  cannot  utter  appro- 
priate ideas  & therefore  rightly  does  the  quaker  apply  silence  as  best  expressing 
our  inferiority  & Gods  superiority— best  comporting  with  our  nothingness  & 
his  supremacy.  But  the  form  of  religion  is  unimportant  & may  be  left  with 
the  individual — not  so  as  to  its  obligations  & duties — 

I have  always  admired  the  fulness  & revered  the  truth  so  well  expressed  bv 
a roman,  Ingratum  qui  dixerit,  omnia  dixit.  No  man  can  be  good  without 
being  grateful  in  heart  & to  whom  ought  man  to  be  most  grateful  but  to  his 
highest  benefactor  his  prop,  his  stay,  his  comforter  & his  protector — Religion 
commands  man  to  love  adore  in  the  warmest  feelings  of  gratitude  the  great 
God — Virtue  inculcates  the  same  obligations  & flourishes  in  mind  & in  act 
under  the  benign  mantle  of  religion — 2 

The  inner  life  of  the  family  at  Stratford  had  a certain  harmony  re- 
sulting from  love  and  consideration,  although  their  material  circum- 
stances were  daily  becoming  more  desperate.  Harry  Lee  reared  his 
children  to  regard  their  mother’s  word  as  law.  In  small  as  well  as 
large  matters,  they  were  instructed  that  their  mother  was  their  first  con- 
sideration. Carter  and  his  younger  brothers  always  occupied  the  nursery, 

2Excerpt  from  original  letter  from  Henry  Lee  to  Ann  Lee,  Sept.  3,  1813,  manuscript  col- 
lection. Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation.  Inc. 


314 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


the  small  room  connected  with  their  mother’s  room.  So  solicitous  was 
Colonel  Harry  about  Ann’s  health  and  comfort  that  he  never  permitted 
his  boys  to  make  the  slightest  noise  in  the  nursery  or  leave  their  beds 
until  their  mother  was  awake.3 

Although  Colonel  Harry  loved  each  of  his  children,  he  was  especially 
devoted  to  Carter.  "My  dear  son  Carter,”  he  always  said  in  addressing 
him,  or  in  speaking  of  him:  . . the  darling  child  not  only  was  dear 

to  me  from  birth,  but  has  tenderly  loved  me  from  the  dawn  of  reason  if 
I do  not  deceive  myself  ...  he  has  been  from  the  hour  of  his  birth  un- 
changeably my  delight.  . . . ”4 

During  Lee’s  discouraging  stay  in  New  York  and  Philadelphia  in 
1802,  when  he  tried  in  vain  to  recover  money  he  had  lent  others,  and  to 
raise  funds  to  provide  for  his  family  and  to  save  his  business  projects, 
Carter  was  his  closest  companion.  The  child’s  little  hand  had  been 
clasped  tightly  in  his  whenever  they  walked  out  together.  What  father 
could  forget  such  an  experience? 

The  hours  when  Colonel  Harry  was  off-guard  and  was  just  himself — 
not  so  much  teacher  as  friend  of  his  boys — were  doubtless  the  times 
when  they  were  most  influenced  by  the  relation  of  his  experiences  and 
his  own  ideas  and  attitude.  Particularly  by  the  way  he  introduced  them 
to  the  Greek  and  Latin  historians,  poets,  and  dramatists — his  familiar 
and  beloved  friends.  The  definite,  personal  way  in  which  their  father 
made  both  Henry  and  Carter  acquainted  with  the  classics  colored  their 
entire  future  outlook,  as  their  writings  of  later  years  show.  The  scholar’s 
world  became  a part  of  theirs.  Colonel  Harry  began  to  teach  Carter 
Latin  before  the  boy  was  six  years  old.  When  he  was  nine  he  could  read 
Latin  easily.'  Smith  and  Robert,  being  too  young,  were  not  to  have  their 
father’s  guidance,  and  were  to  suffer  the  lack  of  it  all  their  lives. 

One  of  Colonel  Harry’s  best-loved  "treasures,”  next  perhaps  to  the 
Ajax  of  Sophocles,  was  a seal  ring  which  had  belonged  to  a Roman 
consul.  This  he  gave  to  "my  dear  son  Carter”  who  cherished  it  always.8 

At  Stratford,  for  the  three  preceding  generations,  governesses  and 
tutors  had  been  members  of  the  household.  It  appears  that  there  were 

“Statement  to  author  by  Mildred  Francis  Lee,  daughter  of  Charles  Carter  Lee. 

'Henry  Lee  to  Ann  and  Carter.  Sept.  3,  1813;  Lee  Foundation. 

“Carter  Lee  passed  on  his  father’s  friendly  and  informal  instruction  in  the  classics  to  his  own 
son,  Robert  Randolph  Lee.  An  incident  is  told  in  the  family  that  when  Thackeray  visited  Mr. 
George  Taylor,  father-in-law  of  Carter  Lee,  in  Richmond,  in  the  early  eighteen-fifties,  he  was 
impressed  with  Carter  Lee’s  knowledge  of  the  classics.  “Where  is  that  delightful  gentleman  I met 
last  evening?”  he  asked,  “who  quoted  Latin  and  Greek  as  if  they  were  English?” 

“This  ring  was  bequeathed  by  Carter  to  his  son,  Robert  Randolph  Lee,  who  owns  it  today. 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATFORD  HALL 


315 


none  at  this  time,  however;  both  parents  served  in  this  capacity  instead 
in  a more  or  less  desultory  manner. 

During  1807,  Matilda’s  son,  young  Henry,  was  sent  to  boarding 
school  at  Lexington— to  Washington  College.  Because  of  the  competent 
tutoring  he  had  received  from  his  father,  he  was  prepared  in  one  year  to 
enter  William  and  Mary.  Through  his  mother’s  estate  and  his  father’s 
action,  provision  was  made  for  Henry’s  education  and  patrimony,  when 
on  September  26,  1808,  Henry  Lee  made  an  indenture  that: 

Whereas  Henry  Lee,  Jr.,  conveyed  1,600  acres  in  Fairfax  County  Called 
Langley  to  Richard  Bland  Lee  & whereas  Henry  Lee,  Sr.,  is  desirous  of  in- 
demnifying his  son  for  the  same,  also  out  of  natural  love  & affection  & in  con- 
sideration of  one  dollar  the  said  H.  Lee.  Sr.,  doth  hereby  acknowledge  to  his 
son  "the  Sugar  Lands  in  Loudoun  County  of  twelve  hundred  acres,  Morton’s 
Island  in  the  Potomac,  also  Eden  Island,  all  of  which  were”  part  of  the  estate 
of  the  late  Matilda  Lee,  mother  of  the  said  H.  Lee,  Jr.,  & in  which  said  H.  Lee, 
Sr.,  possessed  a life  estate  only. 

As  Carter  grew  older,  as  old  as  twelve  or  thirteen,  he  and  his  father 
would  talk  together  like  friends  of  the  same  age.  Carter  says  his  father 
told  him  stirring  events  of  the  Revolution  and  brave  tales  of  his  old 
companions  in  arms,  and  that  he  read  to  him — young  as  he  was — letters 
and  manuscripts,  public  and  private,  that  were  in  the  Stratford  library 
where  Chatham’s  portrait  hung: 

...  I have  been  familiar  from  my  childhood  with  the  faces  of  many  . . . 
illustrious  men,  as  they  looked  from  their  portraits  in  my  father’s  house,  who 
first  passed  into  the  broad  sun-light  of  liberty  from  the  shadow  of  that  eclipse 
which  was  projected  on  the  new  world  by  the  towering  shores  of  the  old.  I 
have  read  in  their  own  manuscripts,  on  the  paper  touched  and  folded  by  their 
hallowed  hands,  their  public  and  private  communications,  all  breathing  the 
ardor  of  patriotism  and  the  counsels  of  wisdom.  . . . how  dear  to  the  human 
memory  is  the  natal  place;  how  fondly  we  recollect  the  green  we  first  played  on, 
the  paths  we  first  rode,  the  trees  we  first  climbed,  the  flowers  we  first  pulled, 
the  faces  we  first  loved;  if  you  will  reflect  how  the  owners  and  the  ornaments 
of  this  cherished  spot,  who  likewise  illustrate  our  own  birth,  become  entwined 
with  ourselves  and  mingled  with  our  self-esteem  as  we  travel  along  in  life,  and 
are  continually  driven  by  its  sorrows  to  cling  to  its  imperishable  consolations, 
— then  will  you  appreciate  the  pleasure  I would  take  in  expatiating  upon  the 
feats,  in  the  Senate  or  the  field,  of  those  illustrious  men  to  whom  I have  alluded. 
It  would  but  be  mingling  the  flow  of  filial  affection  and  patriotic  feeling  were 
I to  run  over  our  toils  and  our  triumphs  from  the  monumental  heights  around 
Boston  to  the  unmarked  battle  fields  of  Georgia;  for  either  by  his  sword  or  his 
pen,  the  memory  of  my  father  is  connected  with  them  all.  . . ,7 


7Charles  Carter  Lee  Papers,  Archives  Department,  Harvard  College  Library. 


West  passage  leading  to  the  parlor  and  the  Cherry  Tree  Room. 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATEORD  HALL  317 

2 

The  end  of  Colonel  Harry’s  happy  companionship  with  his  children 
was  perilously  near.  His  creditors,  a besieging  army,  were  incessantly  at 
Stratford’s  gates/  Under  Virginia  laws,  this  was  more  than  a mere  an- 
noyance, for  the  debtors’  prisons  of  Virginia  awaited  the  man  who  could 
not  meet  debts  which  his  creditors  brought  into  court. 

Light-Horse  Harry  Lee  was  at  the  uttermost  end  of  his  resources.  He 
had  not  foreseen  how  completely  incidental  misfortunes  and  circum- 
stances, over  which  he  had  no  control,  as  well  as  his  own  impractical  and 
ill-judged  actions,  could  operate  to  his  ruin.  Robert  Morris’s  inability 
to  repay  Lee  the  forty  thousand  dollars  lent  long  before,  was  responsible 
for  many  of  the  unpaid  obligations.  In  1801  Morris,  who  had  financed 
the  Revolution,  had  come  out  of  debtors’  prison  in  Philadelphia,  broken 
in  health  and  financially  ruined.  No  return  from  the  government  had 
ever  been  made  to  Harry  Lee  for  the  thousands  of  dollars  of  his  patri- 
mony spent  in  1776  to  equip  his  first  cavalry  troop  with  arms,  ammuni- 
tion, uniforms,  horses,  and  provisions.  None  had  ever  been  asked.  He 
had  spent  time  and  money  to  obtain  recompense  for  his  legionnaires 
after  the  Revolution — never  for  himself/ 

With  Jefferson  in  power,  Lee’s  political  eclipse  was  now  complete. 
There  was  no  chance  for  him,  a Federalist,  to  hold  office  either  in  Vir- 
ginia or  in  the  national  government  during  Jefferson’s  administration. 
His  frenzied  attempts  to  borrow  from  one  man  to  pay  another,  to  mort- 
gage or  split  his  properties,  giving  one  part  on  account  of  an  obligation 
here,  another  part  there,  or  to  finance  various  projects  and  land  specu- 
lations— all  this  added  to  the  chaos  of  his  affairs.  And  he  had  lived  on 
credit  even  longer  than  most  of  his  fellow  Virginians,  much  longer  than 
Ann  approved.  There  was  little  excuse  for  it;  where  he  had  sown,  he 
must  reap.  It  was  too  late  now  for  him  to  do  other  than  to  unite  with 
Ann  in  training  their  sons  to  steer  a different  course. 

It  is  not  surprising  that,  in  his  acute  distress  of  mind,  he  became  ill 
in  the  winter  of  1808-1809,  or  that  Ann,  always  frail,  was  also  stricken 
and  moved  like  a shadow  about  the  house. 

“Explicit  records  of  Lee’s  debts,  amounts,  circumstances,  names  of  creditors,  etc.,  are  set 
forth  in  Thomas  Boyd’s  Light  Horse  Harry  Lee. 

““My  grandfather  was  a soldier  and  a statesman,  not  a business  man.  He  could  have  paid  his 
debts  if  others  could  have  paid  him.  But  no  one  blames  Mr.  Robert  Morris,  he  was  just  un- 
fortunate as  my  grandfather  was.  They  two  were  friends.  . . . Why  General  Harry  Lee  should 
have  been  called  discredited  because  he  lost  money  I can’t  see.  Jefferson  owed  money  and  his 
friends  came  forward  and  paid  so  that  he  might  have  no  trouble.  No  one  called  Mr.  Robert 
Morris  discredited  and  he  had  the  same  fate  as  General  Lee.”  Statement  by  Mrs.  Francis  in 
personal  letter  to  writer. 


318  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Lee  decided  that  the  only  hope  for  their  recovery  was  a warmer 
climate.  First  he  thought  of  going  to  the  Bermudas;  an  old  friend,  liv- 
ing there  in  prosperous  circumstances,  pitied  Lee’s  desperate  plight, 
and  offered  him  and  his  family  a home  and  competence.  It  would,  how- 
ever, be  difficult  to  leave  the  United  States. 

To  Lee’s  anguish  over  the  state  of  his  personal  affairs  was  added 
heavy  concern  over  the  condition  of  his  country.  He  witnessed  what 
must  have  seemed  to  him  the  end  of  the  self-government  for  which  he 
had  fought  in  the  Revolution.  For  nearly  two  years  Jefferson’s  Embargo 
Act  had  virtually  isolated  the  United  States.  All  foreign  trade  by  land 
or  sea  was  illegal.  Thousands  of  men  once  engaged  in  such  trade  were 
now  ruined.  The  wharves  were  piled  mountain-high  with  tobacco, 
cotton,  wheat,  corn — rotting  where  they  stood.  The  government  treasury 
was  empty.  If  Lee  had  not  had  so  unswerving  a loyalty  to  his  country’s 
laws,  he  might  have  taken  passage  with  his  family  secretly  on  some 
sailing  vessel  headed  for  the  Bermudas  or  South  America.  But  he  re- 
fused to  put  himself  in  a class  with  the  smugglers  and  illicit  operators, 
whose  number  was  legion.  He  wrote  Secretary  Madison: 

. . . as  to  myself,  no  British  vessel  can  be  found  & no  American  vessel  can 
be  procured  but  by  illicit  contrivance  & to  such  means  (proud  as  I am)  I can- 
not resort.  The  Brazils  is  the  best  place  for  me  to  go  & if  you  will  appoint  a 
consul  there  & he  is  a good,  friendly  man  I could  venture  with  him.  Such  an 
appointment  being  made,  the  President]  would  be  authorized  to  give  me  a 
let[ter]  congratulating  your  friend  on  his  safe  arrival  in  that  quarter  of  the 
globe,  such  a letter  would  authorize  the  President]  to  send  a vessel  with  the 
bearer  of  the  letfter].  Such  is  my  distressed  condition  that  I humbly  expose 
to  you  such  ideas  as  occur  to  me,  favorable  to  my  wishes,  hoping  that  you  will 
if  you  can  aid  me  in  my  very  painful  situation. 

The  request  was  futile.  Just  why  James  Madison  did  not  respond 
favorably  to  his  old  college  classmate,  friend,  and  colleague  is  not 
known.  All  that  Harry  Lee  needed  was  official  sanction  for  a plan 
clearly  outlined.  He  wrote  again  to  Madison:  "I  despair  of  success 
unless  I can  be  permitted  to  go  out  in  one  of  our  own  sailing  vessels 
chartered  for  the  purpose  expressly  prohibited  from  taking  anything 
on  board  but  stores  for  the  voyage  & those  only  in  amount  as  the  col- 
lector may  direct.  The  state  of  my  own  health  my  physician  considers 
imperiously  requiring  a sea  voyage.”  Lee  went  to  Washington  for 
further  pressing  of  his  plea.  Meantime  Ann’s  condition  took  a turn  for 
the  worse.  She  became  gravely  ill  and  wrote  her  husband  from  Strat- 
ford, the  last  letter  she  thought  she  would  live  to  write. 

Again  he  appealed  to  Madison: 


Portrait  of  William  Pitt  which  hung  at  Stratford : from  engraving  of  original  allegorical 
portrait  by  Charles  Willson  Peale,  now  at  Westmoreland  County  Courthouse. 


320 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


The  last  letter  from  my  family  commands  me  to  make  the  only  effort  in  my 
power  to  preserve  a life,  the  loss  of  which  will  bear  me  to  the  grave  with 
unceasing  woe.  We  sh[oul]d  have  gond  to  the  Bermudas  where  I have  a fast 
friend  who  had  offered  me  his  house,  even  purse.  But  our  condition  with  G. 
Britain  arrested  our  plan.  . . . Brasil  is  dry  & warm  & with  that  government 
we  are  on  a friendly  footing.  It  is  the  only  spot  at  this  time  open  to  a person 
situated  as  I am. 

I had  wished  that  I could  have  been  made  useful  to  my  country,  but  this  wish 
I forego  if  improper,  tho  I feel  not  the  weight  of  the  objection  to  my  proposal. 
I have  served  in  war  and  in  peace  the  U.  S.  I never  asked  for  any  office  or  even 
favor  before  from  government  or  any  member  of  government.  Nor  sh[oul]d  I 
do  so  now  but  for  the  peculiarity  of  my  condition.  It  is  done  with  reluctance 
altho  to  you  in  whose  friendship  of  most  men  on  earth  I have  ever  greatly  relied. 

There  was  no  response. 

With  the  passing  of  the  cold  weather  both  Ann  and  Harry  Lee  re- 
gained their  health  in  some  degree.  But  their  days  in  the  Great  House 
were  sharp  with  apprehension.  The  long-dreaded  event,  Lee’s  arrest 
and  imprisonment  for  debt,  came  in  April.  A writ  obtained  by  certain 
Westmoreland  creditors  was  "executed  on  the  within-named  Henry 
Lee”  and  Lee  was  committed  by  the  County  sheriff  to  "the  prison 
bounds”  at  Montross. 

His  son  Henry  says: 

Gen[eral]  Lee  was  cast  into  a loathsome  jail,  and  subjected  to  the  combined 
persecution  of  political  rancour,  personal  cupidity,  and  vulgar  malice.  Yet  he 
never  for  a moment  lost  the  dignity  of  his  deportment,  or  the  composure  of  his 
mind,  never  once  descended  to  complaint,  or  stooped  to  importunity.  . . . 
The  pain  of  imprisonment  he  generously  soothed  by  celebrating  the  exploits  of 
his  great  commanders,  Washington  and  Greene;  by  saving  from  oblivion  the 
names  and  actions  of  his  companions  in  arms,  and  by  recording  for  the  instruc- 
tion of  future  ages,  the  principal  events  of  his  own  life.  While  he  dwelt  on 
these  grateful  and  heroic  themes,  which  smoothed  the  brow  of  misfortune, 
not  an  unfair  opinion  or  ungenerous  sentiment  escaped  him.  His  book  is  stained 
with  no  prevarications  or  calumnies,  no  evasions  or  contradictions — no  slanders 
of  rivals  or  of  foes,  and  (though  it  contains  political  reflections)  there  is  not 
to  be  found  in  it  a single  expression  disrespectful  to  the  laws  of  his  country, 
detrimental  to  the  union  of  the  States,  or  injurious  to  the  rights  or  liberties 
of  the  citizen.10 

The  idea  of  such  a book  had  been  stirring  in  Lee’s  mind  for  years. 
His  military  comrades,  when  first  hearing  of  his  design,  had  been  eager 
to  contribute  to  its  fulfilment.  Circumstances,  however,  had  not  per- 
mitted Lee  to  take  up  the  work,  and  it  had  been  deferred  from  year  to 
year.  Now  many  of  those  old  companions  were  dead,  but  the  several 


10 Observations  on  the  Writings  of  Thomas  Jefferson,  by  Henry  Lee,  pages  180-181. 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATFORD  HALL 


321 


survivors  among  them  were  to  respond  with  friendly  interest  and  give 
Lee  the  additional  facts  he  needed  to  begin  his  undertaking.  The  ma- 
terial for  his  history  was  organized  and  classified  in  his  extraordinary 
memory  to  such  a degree  that  in  the  quiet  of  the  Montross  jail  he  was 
able  to  begin  the  work  of  composition,  and  to  write  with  as  much  poise 
and  serenity  as  if  he  were  in  the  library  at  Stratford: 

The  determination  of  the  mind  to  relinquish  the  soft  scenes  of  tranquil  life 
for  the  rough  adventures  of  war,  is  generally  attended  with  the  conviction  that 
the  act  is  laudable;  and  with  a wish  that  its  honorable  exertions  should  be 
faithfully  transmitted  to  posterity.  These  sentiments  lead  to  the  cultivation 
of  virtue;  and  the  effect  of  the  one  is  magnified  by  the  accomplishment  of  the 
other.  In  usefulness  to  society,  the  difference  is  inconsiderable  between  the 
conduct  of  him  who  performs  great  achievements,  and  of  him  who  records 
them;  for  short  must  be  the  remembrance,  circumscribed  the  influence  of  pa- 
triotic exertions  and  heroic  exploits,  unless  the  patient  historian  retrieve  them 
from  oblivion,  and  hold  them  up  conspicuously  to  future  ages.  "Saepe  audivi, 
Q.  Maximum,  P.  Scipionem,  praeterea  civitatis  nostrae  praeclaros  viros,  solitos 
ita  dicere,  cum  majorum  imagines  intuerentur,  vehementissime  sibi  animum  ad 
virtutem  accendi.  Scilicet  non  ceram  lllam,  neque  figuram  tantam  vim  in  sese 
habere;  sed  memoria  rerum  gestarum  earn  flammam  egregiis  viris  in  pectore 
crescere,  neque  priiis  sedari,  quam  virtus  eorum  famam  atque  gloriam  adae- 
quaverit.”* — Sail  Bell.  Jugur.1' 

Regretting,  as  we  all  do,  that  not  one  of  the  chief  actors  in  our  camp  or  cabi- 
net, and  indeed  very  few  of  our  fellow-citizens,  have  attempted  to  unfold  the 
rise,  or  to  illustrate  the  progress  and  termination  of  our  revolution,  I have  been 
led  to  this  my  undertaking  with  a hope  of  contributing,  in  some  degree,  to 
repair  the  effects  of  this  much  lamented  indifference.  With  this  view  I am 
about  to  write  memoirs  of  the  Southern  campaigns,  being  that  part  of  the  war 
with  which  I am  best  acquainted,  and  which  in  its  progress  and  issue  materially 
contributed  to  our  final  success,  and  to  the  enlargement  of  our  military  fame. 
Desirous  of  investing  the  reader  with  a full  and  clear  understanding  of  the 
operations  to  be  described,  I shall  commence  these  memoirs  at  the  beginning 
of  the  third  year  of  the  war;  for  the  principal  events  which  occurred  thereafter, 
laid  the  foundation  of  the  change  in  the  enemy’s  conduct,  and  turned  the  tide 
and  fury  of  the  conflict  from  the  North  to  the  South. 

So  runs  the  introductory  chapter  of  Lee’s  Memoirs  of  the  War  in  the 
Southern  Department  of  the  United  States.  It  was  to  become  the  chief 
source  book  of  the  American  Revolution  in  the  South,  distinguished  by 
specific  and  exact  facts,  clear  portraits  of  men,  and  vivid  descriptions  of 
places,  battles,  marches,  and  engagements,  strengthened  by  Lee’s  techni- 

nOften  have  I heard,  that  Quintus  Maximus,  Publius  Scipio,  and  other  renowned  men  of 
our  commonwealth,  used  to  say,  that  whenever  they  beheld  the  images  of  their  ancestors,  they 
felt  their  minds  vehemently  excited  to  virtue.  It  could  not  be  the  wax  or  the  marble  that 
possessed  this  power ; but  the  recollection  of  their  great  actions  kindled  a generous  flame  in 
their  breasts,  not  to  be  quelled  till  they  also  by  virtue  had  acquired  equal  fame  and  glory.  [Lee’s 
translation.] 


322  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

cal  military  knowledge,  colored  and  deepened  by  his  passion  for  the 
classics.  The  actors  and  the  times  are  brought  in  its  pages  to  vigorous 
life,  as  in  his  description  of  a cavalry  engagement  on  the  banks  of  the 
Schuylkill: 

The  fire  of  cavalry  is  at  best  innocent,  especially  in  quick  motion,  as  was  then 
the  case.  The  strength  and  activity  of  the  horse,  the  precision  and  celerity  of 
evolution,  the  adroitness  of  the  rider,  boot-top  to  boot-top,  and  the  keen  edge 
of  the  sabre,  with  fitness  of  ground  and  skill  in  the  leader,  constitute  their  vast 
power  so  often  decisive  in  the  day  of  battle. 

The  Memoirs  and  his  son’s  statement  show  that  Harry  Lee  triumphed 
over  the  misery  and  wretchedness  of  his  lot:  the  vicious  air,  the  dark 
cell,  oozing  dampness  and  vermin,  wretched  food,  the  filthy  cot,  the 
depression  and  agony  of  mind  and  spirit.  Had  he  not  been  through  six 
years  of  war?  Here  was  one  fight  more.  Whatever  there  was  to  face 
he  would  face. 

Thoughts  of  another  man  who  had  just  such  a fight  to  wage,  must 
have  come  to  Harry  Lee.  Like  him,  Sir  Walter  Raleigh  had  been  thrown 
into  a loathsome  jail,  but  by  courage  and  reflection  had  triumphed  over 
his  long  days  of  distress.  Even  as  the  shadows  of  London  Tower  and 
the  block  itself  lie  over  Raleigh’s  History  of  the  World,  the  air  of  the 
debtors’  prison  in  Virginia  breathes  through  Lee’s  Memoirs.  The  very 
lines  that  Walter  Raleigh  wrote  a little  while  before  his  death,  Lee 
might  have  spoken  to  himself: 

Even  such  is  time,  that  takes  in  trust 
Our  youth,  our  joys,  our  all  we  have, 

And  pays  us  but  with  earth  and  dust; 

Who  in  the  dark  and  silent  grave, 

When  we  have  wandered  all  our  ways, 

Shuts  up  the  story  of  our  days; 

But  from  this  earth,  this  grave,  this  dust, 

My  God  shall  raise  me  up,  I trust. 

3 

Ann  Lee’s  distress  over  her  husband’s  fate  and  the  public  humiliation 
to  which  the  family  was  now  subjected  can  be  surmised.  She  never 
spoke  of  it  herself.  With  the  exception  of  a brief  reference  in  one  of 
her  heretofore  unpublished  letters,  quoted  here,  there  is  a heavy  silence 
over  Stratford  during  those  long  months  of  Lee’s  incarceration,  first  at 
Montross,  and  then  in  the  jail  at  Spotsylvania  Court  House.  Nearly  two 
years  of  confinement! 

This  much  is  plain:  in  prison  he  decided  not  to  live  again  with  his 
family.  His  reason  for  such  a decision  is  not  known.  Because  he  was 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATEORD  HALL 


323 


without  means  to  support  his  family  or  even  himself,  he  may  have  felt 
that  he  could  not  add  to  Ann’s  burdens.  There  never  was  what  is  termed 
a "break”  between  himself  and  his  family,  "every  member  of  which 
loved  and  reverenced  him  always.”12  But,  overwhelmed  with  grief  be- 
cause of  the  disgrace  and  sorrow  he  had  unintentionally  brought  upon 
those  he  so  dearly  loved,  he  might  perhaps  have  imagined  they  would 
not  want  him  to  return  to  them. 

But  the  dark  mood  passed,  as  Ann  relates  in  a letter  to  her  brother- 
in-law,  Carter  Berkeley,  when  she  says  that  her  husband  assured  her  that 
his  intention  was  to  live  with  his  family  "after  his  release  from  his  pres- 
ent situation.”  Ann  could  not  bring  herself  to  write  the  words,  "im- 
prisonment” or  "jail.” 

Carter  Berkeley  had  invited  her  to  bring  all  of  her  children  to  Edge- 
wood,  his  home  near  Fredericksburg,  and  live  permanently  with  his 
family.  His  wife,  who  was  one  of  Ann’s  sisters,  had  died  early  in  No- 
vember of  that  year,  1809.  His  own  children  were  motherless;  Ann’s 
children,  for  the  time  being,  were  fatherless,  and  in  the  face  of  Harry 
Lee’s  expressed  intention  might  always  be  so. 

Ann  wrote  from  Stratford  on  November  26,  1809: 

My  Dear  Dr , 

I received  yesterday  your  letter  of  the  6th  instant — The  painful  intelligence 
it  contained,  had  been  a fortnight  before,  communicated  by  Sister  Braxton.  I 
feel  most  sensibly  for  you,  for  your  dear  Children,  and  on  my  own  account.  I 
have  lost  my  beloved  Sister  and  friend!  but  her  dear  memory  will  ever  be  most 
fondly  cherished  in  my  heart;  and  I have  an  humble  hope,  that  our  separation 
may  not  be  eternal!  To  you  my  good  friend,  I can  offer  no  consolation;  for  at 
present,  your  situation  does  not  admit  of  any:  but  the  tim[e]  I trust  will  come, 
when  your  sorrows  will  be  alleviated,  and  that  tranquillity  of  mind  restored 
you,  which  you  are  now  so  entirely  deprived  of. 

Our  loss  has  been  most  afflicting  dear  Dr-,  but  our  comfort  is  great;  we  know 
that  our  dear  friend  is  for  ever  removed  from  pain  and  distress;  and  we  hope 
and  believe,  that  her  pure  and  virtuous  life,  has  insured  her  endless  ages  of 
unfading  felicity!  I must  now  hasten  to  reply  to  the  principal  subject  of  your 
letter,  as  the  post  goes  out  tomorrow;  and  my  letter  must  be  conveyed  to  the 
office,  at  an  early  hour  in  the  morning — 

I had  intended  to  write  more  fully  on  the  subject,  but  my  Sister  Carter  arrived 
to  dinner,  on  her  way  to  Richd:  Hill,  and  I could  not  leave  her,  till  she  had 
retired  to  her  room;  and  it  is  now  nine  ’oclock.  I must  begin  with  thanking  you 
for  your  generous  offer  my  dear  D.r:  for  my  feelings  most  powerfully  impel 
me  to  do  so;  for  tho’  you  would  throw  the  obligation  on  yourself,  I can  discover 
a great  portion  of  benefit  designed  me;  for  which,  I shall  be  ever  most  truly 
grateful:  nor  let  my  declining  to  accept  it,  wound  your  feelings,  or  make  you 


12Statement  to  writer  by  Carter’s  daughter,  Mrs.  Francis. 


324 


STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 


confide  less  in  my  affection  and  friendship]  for  yourself  and  Children.  M.r 
Lee  in  all  his  letters,  requests  I will  remain  here  till  his  arrival — that  the 
negroes  may  also  remain,  and  that  I should  not  take  any  step,  towards  fixing 
myself  elsewhere:  this  he  says,  is  for  the  mutual  benefit  of  Henry,  myself,  & 
himself — I gave  him  a positive  promise  on  first  getting  home,  that  I would  do 
so,  reserving  to  myself  the  right,  of  choosing  my  place  of  residence  afterwards, 
and  only  going  so  far  in  the  interim,  as  to  make  inquires,  respecting  the  practi- 
cability, of  procuring  a place  in  the  part  of  the  [w]orld  I wished  to  fix  in,  and 
adv[i]sing  with  my  friends  on  the  subject. 

M.r  Lee  constan[tl]y  assures  me,  his  intention  is,  to  live  with  his  family:  after 
his  release  from  his  present  situation,  if  so,  you  will  readily  see,  the  propriety  of 
my  not  adopting  your  plan:  but  should  he  not  my  dear  Dr->  excuse  me  when  I 
say,  I fear  I could  not  be  happy,  any  where  but  in  my  own  house — I assure  you, 
I could  live  as  happily  with  you,  as  with  one  of  my  own  Brothers;  but  I feel  an 
unconquerable  inclination  to  fix  myself  permanently,  be  it  in  ever  so  humble  a 
manner,  and  must  indulge  myself,  in  at  least,  making  the  attempt — There,  dear 
Dr->  any  of  your  Children  should  find  as  many  [co]mforts  & advantages,  as  I 
should  have  the  power  of  bestowing  on  [paper  tornjrn.  The  dear  little  boys  I 
presume  you  would  keep  with  you,  [paper  torn]  protector  & guide  they  could 
have,  and  Elizabeth  requires  advantages  a [paper  torn],  which  I am  not  quali- 
fied to  give  her,  but  dear  little  Ann,  I hope  [paper  torn]  could  render  every 
service,  necessary;  but  could  you  dispense  with  Elizabeth’s  possessing  those  ad- 
vantages, or  should  I live  in,  or  near  a town,  where  they  could  be  obtained, 
then  my  dear  Sir,  bring  them  both  to  me,  and  I will  exert  all  the  energies  of 
my  soul,  to  render  their  irreparable  loss,  as  little  felt  by  them,  as  possible.  I 
reflect  on  yours,  & my  dear  Brother’s  visit,  with  much  satisfaction;  I hope  I 
shall  not  be  disappointed;  but  dear  friend  come,  believing  my  mind  fixed,  on 
the  subject  in  question,  and  do  not  ask  me  to  change  it,  as  it  will  be  most  painful 
to  me  to  deny  you. 

May  all  manner  of  consolation  be  administered  to  you  my  good  friend,  now, 
and  in  time,  may  your  happiness  be  completely  renovated.13 

Ann  Lee. 

[Addressed:  ] 

D.r  Carter  Berkeley  12  o/o 
Frederick[s]burg  Edge  Wood 
Post  to  New  found  Mills. 

Ann  Lee  seems  to  have  brought  to  bear  upon  her  problems  a certain 
new  strength,  practical  common  sense,  and  independence  born  out  of 
the  contingency  itself.  Her  decision  was  to  leave  Stratford,  and  to  find  a 
permanent  home  for  her  family  in  some  other  locality  in  Virginia. 

By  the  terms  of  the  trust  Matilda  had  had  drawn  up,  Harry  Lee  had 
life  tenure  at  Stratford:  but  she,  Ann  Hill  Carter,  his  second  wife,  had 
not.  Matilda’s  son,  Henry,  was  the  heir-at-law  of  Stratford.  Henry  was 


13 Ann  Lee  to  Carter  Berkeley;  MS.,  Lee  Foundation. 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATFORD  HALL  325 

then  past  twenty-one;  and,  excepting  for  the  technicality  that  gave  his 
father  legal  ownership  of  the  Great  House  and  the  estate,  young  Henry 
was  to  all  intents  and  purposes  its  master.  He  was  about  to  graduate 
from  the  College  of  William  and  Mary.  Soon  he  might  be  thinking  of 
marriage.  Stratford  belonged  to  him,  not  to  Ann  or  her  children.  There- 
fore Ann  Lee  began  to  make  inquiries  among  her  friends  and  kinspeople 
about  a new  place  to  live.  Fortunately,  from  her  father’s  estate,  pres- 
ently to  be  settled,  she  would  have  a definite  income  that  would  always 
provide  for  her  and  the  children.  After  all,  in  spite  of  everything  and 
everybody,  it  would  be  possible  to  preserve  her  family’s  independence 
and  dignity.  She  decided  at  length  to  settle  in  Alexandria.  The  little 
city  was  close  to  Washington,  in  the  event  her  husband  should  ever  re- 
enter political  life.  At  least  he  could  see  old  friends  and  would  be 
nearer  people  and  places  with  which  he  might  need  to  be  in  touch  in 
his  new  career  as  a man  of  letters.  There  would  be  schools  for  the 
children  and  a physician  close  by.  Furthermore,  living  in  Alexandria 
were  many  of  the  kinspeople,  family  connections  and  friends  to  whom 
they  were  devoted  and  who  were  devoted  to  them.  Besides,  by  estab- 
lishing a home  there,  one  of  Ann’s  most  cherished  desires  would  be 
realized:  that,  as  she  expressed  it,  her  children  should  form  an  intimacy 
with  those  of  her  closest  friends,  "whose  friendship  has  most  advanced 
my  happiness.” 

She  was  quite  ready  to  leave  Westmoreland.  For  the  children  the 
mere  idea  of  moving,  even  though  it  was  from  so  dear  a place  as  Strat- 
ford, probably  filled  their  days  with  stir  and  excitement.  Ann  waited 
only  for  her  husband’s  return,  as  she  had  promised  him  to  remain  in  the 
Great  House  until  he  came  back. 

During  the  long,  lonely  months,  Ann  Lee  had  need  of  all  the  faith 
and  fortitude  she  could  summon.  Years  later  her  husband  said  of  her 
in  one  of  his  letters  to  Carter:  "...  your  dearest  mother  is  singularly 
pious  from  love  to  Almighty  God  and  love  of  virtue,  which  are  synono- 
mous;  not  from  fear  of  hell — a low  base  influence.  ...” 

Apparently  Ann  disciplined  herself  to  such  a degree  that  at  last  she 
could  command  her  emotions  and  her  grief,  and  maintain  a poise,  seren 
ity,  and  common  sense  that  kept  Stratford  from  becoming  a house  of 
mourning,  that  enabled  the  children  to  study  and  play  as  they  were  ac- 
customed to  do.14  Their  father  had  frequently  been  away  from  them 

14“My  father  and  my  uncles  loved  Stratford  and  held  their  lives  there  as  most  blissful,”  says 
Mildred  Lee  Francis,  “Every  memory  my  father  had  of  Stratford  was  a bright  and  happy  one. 
The  devotion  between  his  father  and  mother  was  very  great,  he  said.  Harry  Lee  was  patient 
and  loving  towards  his  children,  all  of  whom  had  a great  love  and  reverence  for  his  memory.” 


326  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

before  on  his  business  ventures.  Undoubtedly  he  had  gone  this  time 
for  just  a little  while  longer.  Soon  he  would  be  back  with  them. 

One  knows  that  Ann  derived  additional  strength  to  face  her  problems 
from  the  fact  that  Robert,  scarcely  two  years  old,  needed  her  so.  The 
other  children  were  big  enough  to  take  care  of  themselves.  But  Robert 
was  the  baby.  He  was  a child  of  a singular  beauty  of  face  and  form  and 
a disposition  even-tempered,  gentle,  and  sweet.  Her  baby  whom  she  had 
not  welcomed!  Now  in  a bleak  world  he  was  her  chief  comfort,  her 
recompense  for  all  the  sorrows  of  her  days.  So  was  forged  the  bond 
between  mother  and  son  that  lasted  for  them  both  until  the  end  of  their 
lives. 

4 

Sometime  later — it  may  have  been  the  March  or  April  of  Robert’s 
third  year,  for  it  is  among  his  earliest  memories  of  Stratford— his 
mother  planted  a horse-chestnut  tree  in  the  garden.  This  he  remembered 
all  his  life.  As  long  afterward  as  the  eighteen-sixties  he  said:  "The 
horse-chestnut  ...  in  the  garden  was  planted  by  my  mother.  . . . ”15 
Though  unseen  for  years,  he  said  every  feature  of  Stratford  was  familiar 
to  him;  that  here  were  "the  scenes  of  my  earliest  recollections  and  hap- 
piest days  . . . endeared  to  me  by  many  recollections,  and  it  has  been 
always  a great  desire  of  my  life  to  be  able  to  purchase  it.  . . . ”16 

Several  other  horse-chestnuts  grew  near  the  Great  House,  with  giant 
beeches,  hickories,  the  weeping  willow  and  the  row  of  Lombardy  pop- 
lars. Two  tall  box  trees  stood  like  hooded  monks  before  the  smoke- 
house. The  brick  walls  surrounding  the  garden  were  so  high  that  the 
children  could  not  see  over  them  into  the  orchards  and  the  fields,  unless 
they  lifted  each  other  up  to  look.  The  Great  Spring  at  Stratford  was 
a strange,  mysterious  place.  Although  there  were  springs  innumerable 
in  the  forests  of  the  plantation,  there  was  but  one  Great  Spring — that  was 
at  the  foot  of  the  steep  hill  before  the  north  entrance  of  the  mansion. 
Here,  nearly  a century  before,  had  President  Lee  built  the  circular  spring 
house,  of  the  same  brick  of  which  the  house  itself  was  made.  The  tops 
of  the  tall  trees  around  it  were  almost  on  a level  with  the  ground  on 
which  the  Great  House  was  built.  They  completely  hid  it  from  sight, 
and  also  hid  the  Great  Spring,  which  fed  the  streams  and  rivulets  flow- 
ing through  the  deep,  fern-clad  ravines  like  silver  threads  winding  over 

“Excerpt  from  letter  by  R.  E.  Lee  to  his  daughters,  written  from  Savannah.  Georgia,  No- 
vember 22,  1861  : from  Recollections  and  Letters  of  General  Robert  E.  Lee,  by  his  son,  Captain 
R.  E.  Lee. 

“Excerpt  from  letter  bv  R.  E.  Lee  to  Miss  Minnie  Ward,  of  Warsaw,  Virginia,  written  in 
the  spring  of  1866:  from  Life  and  Letters  of  Robert  E.  Lee,  by  J.  W.  Jones,  1906. 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATFORD  HALL  327 

mossy  rocks  and  many-coloured  stones  on  and  on  to  the  river.  To  a 
child,  the  house  must  have  seemed  the  top  of  the  world,  and  that  deep 
gulf  of  shadow,  where  the  spring  was,  was  surely  the  bottom. 

"You  did  not  mention  the  Spring,”  Robert  says,  "another  object  of 
my  earliest  recollections.”  He  never  forgot  it,  and,  perhaps  because  of 
the  wild  flowers  that  grew  there,  he  always  knew  and  loved  other  wild 
flowers  in  other  far-away  places — even  on  battlefields — long,  long  after- 
wards. Carter  also  knew  well  every  wild  flower  and  bush  and  tree  that 
grew  in  their  "mountain  wood”  at  Stratford  and  blossomed  in  early 
March  or  April:  the  hawthorn,  the  crab  apple  and  dogwood,  the  wild 
grape  and  azalea.  So  lovely  were  they  he  called  them  "the  sweets  of 
solitude”  and  he  could  not  help  but  put  them  into  verse: 

The  service  boughs,  the  first  to  fling 
Out  their  white  banners  to  the  spring, 

Had  lost  their  blossoms,  and  had  blown 
The  sweet  crab-apple  flowers  and  gone; 

Nor  with  the  dogwood’s  bloom  of  light 
The  sunny  ridges  now  were  bright; 

But  by  the  streams  the  grape’s  perfume 
Fell  O’er  the  azalia’s  golden  bloom. 

These  with  each  shade  of  yellow  tinge 
The  mountain  vales  profusely  fringe; 

And  in  such  ample  globes  they  glow, 

And  into  bowers  so  lofty  grow 
The  stranger  almost  deems  he  roves 
A wilderness  of  orange  groves.17 

i 1 1 1 

It  was  just  at  this  season  that  their  father  came  back  home  to  stav. 
How  terribly  long  his  business  had  kept  him!  Colonel  Harry’s  trunk 
and  boxes  were  full  of  papers,  letters,  documents — the  source  material, 
and  many  chapters  in  manuscript,  of  his  Memoirs.  They  must  be  re- 
written and  reorganized,  and  home  was  the  only  place  where  this  could 
be  done.  Also  he  must  confer  with  certain  of  his  former  brother  officers. 
Ann’s  decision  to  move  immediately  from  Stratford  wavered  before  her 
husband’s  desire  and  need  to  remain  there  until  his  work  could  reach  a 
more  promising  stage  and  he  could  obtain  the  new  material  he  required. 

His  debts  and  obligations  had  amounted  to  many  thousands  of 
dollars.  It  is  not  known  just  how  they  were  settled,  but  the  creditors 
were  satisfied,  and  the  court  order  obtained  for  Lee’s  release.  Undoubt- 

17“The  Maid  of  the  Doe : A Lay  of  the  American  Revolution  by  An  United  States’  Man 
[Charles  Carter  Lee].” 


328  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

edly  his  brothers  and  other  relatives  or  friends  with  perhaps  some  of 
Ann’s  relatives,  combined  forces  and  came  to  his  rescue  at  last. 

Colonel  Harry  could  now  feel  in  an  easier  frame  of  mind  and  make 
steady  progress  with  his  book.  For  months  he  had  been  in  correspon- 
dence with  old  companions  in  arms,  or  sons  or  friends  of  theirs:  John 
Eager  Howard,  Otho  Holland  Williams,  Colonel  Mercer,  Nathanial 
Pendleton,  and  several  others.  When  Lee  was  in  jail,  friends  of  his  in 
Alexandria,  Philadelphia,  and  New  York,  receiving  the  facts  and  in- 
formation he  needed,  would  send  or  bring  it  to  him  at  the  prison.  Some 
of  these  letters  and  manuscript  documents  which  formed  source  material 
for  his  book  have  since  been  found.  Blotted,  stained,  and  mildewed 
from  the  prison  damp,  they  give  mute  testimony  to  the  courage  of  Light- 
Horse  Harry  Lee.18 

So,  comfortably  at  home  once  more,  Colonel  Harry  went  on  with  his 
research  and  writing.  If  the  additional  facts  he  needed  could  not  be 
sent  him  by  letter,  he  would  arrange  to  get  them  by  personal  interview, 
at  Stratford  or  elsewhere.  On  August  16,  1810,  Lee  wrote  Major  B. 
Hannah  at  Leesburg: 

Dear  Sir 

I wrote  to  you  some  weeks  past  begging  you  to  come  and  spend  some  days 
with  me  at  Stratford.  As  you  did  not  comply  with  my  request,  I will  try  again 
to  see  you  by  inviting  you  to  ride  to  Mr.  Israel  Lacey’  tomorrow  where  I will 
wait  the  forenoon  for  you.  Whence  you  will  proceed  with  me  to  Mr.  Carter’s 
I hope. 

At  all  events  I shall  save  an  opportunity  of  asking  you  some  questions,  which 
I think  yr.  memory  will  enable  you  to  answer  with  accuracy  and  which  I desire 
to  know.19 

H.  Lee 

Sully 

In  the  face  of  so  important  a work  as  her  husband’s  Memoirs,  Ann 
continued  to  defer  moving  from  Stratford.  Then  too,  it  was  difficult  to 
uproot  the  family.  The  children  were  so  happy  in  the  country! 

So  the  summer  of  1810  passed.  There  were  still  more  chapters  of  the 
book  to  be  done.  Autumn  came.  The  manuscript  was  not  finished. 
The  family  was  not  ready  to  go.  Not  until  December  or  perhaps  the 
week  of  the  new  year  of  1811 — the  date  is  not  recorded — were  their 
preparations  finally  made  to  leave  the  Great  House. 

The  library  was  left  intact  at  Stratford.  So  were  the  family  portraits, 
including  the  Gilbert  Stuart  portrait  of  Harry  Lee.  The  greater  part  of 

18Original  documents  found  by  author,  and  photostats  made  for  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial 
Foundation,  Inc.,  by  Yale  University  Library. 

19Original  letter  in  collection  of  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Memorial  Foundation,  Inc. 


STORM  CLOUDS  GATHER  OVER  STRATFORD  HALL  329 

the  furniture,  which  had  been  there  for  nearly  a hundred  years,  was  also 
ieft.  Among  the  few  pieces  known  to  have  been  taken  to  the  new  home 
was  Robert’s  cradle.  He  had,  of  course,  outgrown  it,  but  in  a few  weeks 
it  would  be  needed  again.  Ann  expected  her  next  baby  in  February. 

The  last  of  the  vehicles  was  brought  out  from  the  huge  bare  coach 
house.  The  Stratford  family  packed  in  their  belongings  and  started  on 
their  long,  rough  drive  across  country. 

"A  Carriage  Goes  to  Alexandria”  is  the  significant  heading  of  the 
opening  pages  of  Douglas  Southall  Freeman’s  R.  E.  Lee.  This  move 
signalized  a sharp  turning  point  in  the  history  of  the  Stratford  family;  a 
complete  severance  with  Westmoreland  and  the  past,  bringing  new 
horizons  for  the  children  and  new  hope,  perhaps,  for  Ann  and  Harry 
Lee.  The  prelude  of  Robert’s  life,  and  that  of  his  brothers  and  sister, 
written  at  Stratford,  was  over  and  done.  The  first  chapter  of  their  new 
lives  was  now  to  begin  in  a new  place — the  first  chapter  of  Robert’s 
life,  the  last  of  his  father’s. 


CHAPTER  XVII:  TO  SECURE  THE  BLESSINGS  OF  LIBERTY 


1 

A FTER  Stratford’s  broad  acres  and  deep  forests,  the  towering  cliffs, 
the  white  beach,  the  mill  pond,  and  the  woodland  paths  and 
.A  JX  roads,  the  city  of  Alexandria  must  have  seemed  to  the  Lee  chil- 
dren a cramped  and  curious  place.  Many  of  the  houses  were  in  rows; 
others  were  set  in  garden  squares  separated  by  box  hedges  or  wrought- 
iron  fences  which  could  be  vaulted  in  a leap.  Chimneys  were  built  up 
their  sides  instead  of  being  formed  into  towers  as  they  were  at  Strat- 
ford. Uneven  sidewalks  of  red  brick,  flagstones,  or  planks,  and  long 
cobblestone  streets  got  lost  in  the  distances  or  dropped  suddenly  off 
into  the  river.  There  was  no  beach,  no  sea  shells,  no  strange  sea  weed 
drifting  in  with  the  tides  from  the  Chesapeake.  Instead,  there  were 
docks  and  wharves  with  fleets  of  sailing  ships  and  boats,  far  more  than 
ever  rode  at  Stratford  Landing. 

Yes,  Alexandria  was  a queer  place.  The  Potomac  here  did  not  seem 
to  be  even  related  to  their  river  at  Stratford.  But  the  city  had  much  the 
plantation  did  not  have.  There  was  the  Friendship  Fire  Company,  with 
a real  engine  given  by  General  Washington  himself,  and  a theatre  such 
as  Carter  had  seen  in  his  travels  north.  There  was  a Masonic  Lodge,  a 
free  school,  a dancing  academy,  the  Stabler-Leadbeater  apothecary  shop, 
and  many  other  shops  and  stores.  Besides  all  this,  horse  races  took  place 
when  the  Fairfax  Jockey  Club  met  just  outside  the  city.  There  was  a 
lovely  churchyard,  like  a picture,  around  their  new  church — Christ 
Church.  They  had  rented  a house  near  by  at  611  Cameron  Street.  It  was 
a comfortable  two-story  brick  house  with  a side  yard.  Almost  the  entire 
first  floor  might  have  been  placed  in  the  Great  Hall  at  Stratford;  but 
the  house  was  pleasant  and  cozy,  even  if  it  was  small.  For  several  years 
it  served  as  their  home. 

To  Ann  and  Harry  Lee,  the  move  to  Alexandria  must  have  had  at 
least  some  of  the  recompenses  Ann  had  foreseen.  A number  of  other 
families  in  the  little  Virginia  city  on  the  Potomac  had  also  left  remote, 
isolated  great  houses  in  the  country.  The  plantation  life  of  a generation 
before  was  changing  rapidly.  The  younger  sons  of  the  great  houses 
were  establishing  themselves  in  the  ministry,  in  law,  medicine,  in  trade, 
and  making  their  livelihood  in  towns  and  cities. 

Besides  the  Chantilly,  Stratford,  and  Leesylvania  branches  of  the 
Lees  who  had  settled  in  Alexandria,  there  were  also  living  in  the  city, 
or  near  it,  the  families  of  Fitzhugh,  Custis,  Stuart,  Washington,  Fair- 
fax, Lewis,  Blackburn,  Mason,  Carlyle,  Randolph,  Dulaney,  Carter, 

[330] 


TO  SECURE  THE  BLESSINGS  OF  LIBERTY 


331 


Alexander,  Ramsey — many  of  whom  were  related  or  connected  with 
the  Lees.  Members  of  these  families  now  became  intimately  associated 
with  the  transplanted  Stratford  family.  Ravensworth,  the  estate  of  their 
kinsman,  William  Henry  Fitzhugh,  became  in  time  the  Lees’  second 
home.  Arlington,  presided  over  by  Colonel  Fitzhugh’s  sister,  Mrs. 
George  Washington  Parke  Custis  (Mary  Lee  Fitzhugh),  was  another 
lovely  country  home  to  which  the  Lees  also  became  attached.  Among 
other  places  they  knew  well  were  Abingdon,  Hope  Park,  and  Ossian 
Hall  of  the  Stuarts,  Mount  Vernon,  Woodlawn,  and  Rippon  Lodge  of 
the  Washington,  Lewis,  and  Blackburn  families,  and  Gunston  Hall  of 
the  Masons.  Then  too,  William  Lee’s  daughters,  Portia  and  Cornelia, 
were  living  in  Alexandria. 

Ann  and  Harry  Lee  and  their  children  found  themselves  in  a city  of 
friends.  The  situation  of  the  Stratford  family  was,  however,  strikingly 
different  from  that  of  most  of  their  Alexandria  relatives  and  friends, 
who  were  enabled  to  build  beautiful  houses  and  who  brought  in  their 
furnishings  from  the  country.  The  belongings  of  the  Stratford  family 
had,  for  the  most  part,  been  left  in  the  Great  House.  So  far  as  is  known, 
a few  books,  Light-Horse  Harry’s  clock,  and  Robert’s  cradle  were  all 
they  brought.  Their  limited  means  did  not  matter  so  much  in  Alex- 
andria as  in  some  other  city  where  they  might  not  have  had  so  many 
friends. 

The  poor  health  of  their  daughter,  Ann  Kinloch,  remained  a source  of 
anxious  concern.  The  child  had  a serious  affliction  of  the  hand  and  arm 
which  made  her  peculiarly  nervous  and  delicate.  It  had  evidently  begun 
in  infancy.  She  was  under  the  continual  care  of  physicians  in  Alexandria 
and  Philadelphia.  Eventually,  Judge  Storrow  says,  the  child’s  arm  had 
to  be  amputated.  Another  daughter  was  born  February  27,  1811.  She 
was  named  Catharine  Mildred  for  Ann’s  favorite  sister  but  she  was 
always  called  Mildred. 

An  important  factor  in  the  family’s  rehabilitation,  for  it  was  essen- 
tially that,  was  the  distinguished  character  of  the  new  undertaking  in 
which  Harry  Lee  was  now  engaged:  the  completion  of  his  Memoirs. 
Many  of  their  friends  and  neighbors  might  not  read  his  book;  few, 
doubtless,  would  buy  it.  But  all  would  commend  the  undertaking  and 
respect  the  author  and  his  family.  In  this  new  place,  the  Stratford  chil- 
dren would  no  longer  be  the  children  of  a man  but  recently  released 
from  debtors’  prison,  but  the  children  of  Lee  the  historian.  It  would 
again  be  recalled  that  the  master  of  Stratford  Hall  was  the  famous  Light- 


332  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

Horse  Harry  Lee  of  the  Revolution,  "Virginia’s  favorite  Souldier,”  and 
three  times  her  governor. 

So  the  Memoirs,  even  in  embryo,  paved  the  way  for  a new  and  hap- 
pier outlook.  Harry  Lee  was  always  referred  to  now  as  "General  Henry 
Lee”  instead  of  "Colonel  Harry,”  and  Ann  became  "Mrs.  General  Lee.” 

Lee  was  hopeful  that  his  book  would  bring  in  much-needed  financial 
returns  and  perhaps  launch  him  on  a career  that  would  give  him  and 
his  family  means  as  well  as  honors.  The  manuscript  was  completed  by 
the  autumn  of  1811.  That  it  did  not  immediately  find  a publisher  must 
have  been  a disillusioning  experience  for  its  author.  Finally  a Philadel- 
phia firm,  Bradford  and  Inskeep,  contracted  with  Lee  for  the  publish- 
ing, and  in  1812,  the  book  made  its  appearance.  The  Alexandria  Gazette 
printed  the  announcement:  "Just  received.  Memoirs  of  the  War  in  the 
Southern  Department  of  the  United  States.  By  Major  General  Henry 
Lee.  Two  volumes,  octavo.  Price  six  dollars  in  boards  or  seven  dollars 
bound.”  Other  newspapers  in  Baltimore,  Washington,  New  York,  and 
Richmond  published  notices  and  reviews. 

The  Daily  National  Intelligencer  said: 

[In  the]  Memoirs  of  the  War  in  the  Southern  Department  of  the  United 
States.  . . . the  difficulties  and  privations  endured  by  the  patriotic  army  em- 
ployed in  that  quarter — their  courage  and  enterprize,  and  the  skill  and  talents 
of  their  faithful,  active,  and  illustrious  commander,  are  displayed  in  never- 
fading  colors;  a work,  to  use  the  language  of  the  publishers  by  the  perusal  of 
which  "the  patriot  will  be  always  delighted,  the  statesman  informed,  and  the 
soldier  instructed.  . . . [It]  bears  in  every  part  the  ingenuous  stamp  of  a 
patriot  soldier;  and  cannot  fail  to  interest  all  who  desire  to  understand  the 
causes,  and  to  know  the  difficulties  of  our  memorable  struggle.  The  facts 
may  be  relied  on,  "all  of  which  he  saw,  and  part  of  which  he  was.” 

The  book,  however,  did  not  achieve  the  financial  or  literary  success 
it  deserved.  It  has  more  calibre  and  substance  than  Washington  Irving’s 
work,  yet  Irving,  curiously,  was  so  entrenched  in  men’s  minds  as  the  one 
great  American  man  of  letters  that  there  seemed  no  room  in  the  public 
consciousness  for  another  author.  Who  was  an  author  from  Virginia? 
The  appearance  of  Lee’s  Memoirs  was  an  important  literary  event  of  the 
first  quarter  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Such  success  as  did  come,  how- 
ever, apparently  fixed  Lee  in  his  determination  to  go  on  with  the  writing 
of  historical  works.  He  continued  to  collect  material  for  biographies 
of  Washington  and  Greene. 

The  convenience  of  living  in  Alexandria  was  a welcome  contrast  to 
life  in  Westmoreland,  especially  in  so  stirring  a period  of  the  nation’s 
history.  On  the  Potomac,  as  well  as  on  the  Hudson,  experiments  with 


Mildred  Lee  Cbilde,  youngest  child  of  Light-Horse  Harry  and  Ann  Lee:  from  a plate  of 
the  original  drawing. 


334  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

steam-propelled  boats  were  continually  in  progress.  Always  interested 
in  the  economic,  industrial,  and  commercial  development  of  his  country, 
Lee  must  have  observed  with  zest  the  new  methods  of  transportation 
by  land  and  water,  as  they  supplemented  those  with  which  he  was  fa- 
miliar. The  changes  resulting  from  Eli  Whitney’s  invention  of  the  cot- 
ton gin  were  absorbing  topics.  There  was  much  talk  of  Captains  Lewis 
and  Clark  of  the  Northwest  Expedition  and  of  Captain  Zebulon  Pike, 
all  of  whom  had  opened  new  horizons  to  the  west.  Young  officers  of  the 
United  States  Army  and  Navy  were  taking  rank  as  scientists,  explorers, 
discoverers.  Something  besides  a war  machine  was  being  built  by  them. 
If  the  new  republic  could  but  have  a breathing  space — respite  from  war 
and  talk  of  war! 

2 

But  the  menace  of  war  with  Great  Britain  had  been  close  at  hand  since 
the  year  of  Robert’s  birth,  when  the  English  sloop,  the  Leopard,  had 
fired  upon  the  United  States  frigate  Chesapeake  in  an  attempt  to  force 
its  search  for  British  seamen.  In  an  effort  to  give  his  countrymen  the 
actual  facts,  Lee  wrote  a pamphlet  addressed  to  the  people  of  the 
United  States,  urging  them  "to  draw  back  from  an  unjust  war,  which 
with  Great  Britain  at  this  period  is  certainly  so.  Let  us  go  into  the  in- 
quiry,” he  says: 

Three  grounds  of  difference  exist  between  us: 

Impressment  of  our  Seamen. 

The  Orders  in  Council;  and 
The  Attack  upon  the  Chesapeak. 

The  right  of  impressment  has  always  been  exercised  by  all  the  maritime 
powers  of  Europe,  whose  naval  superiority  secured  to  them  its  effectual  appli- 
cation; and  it  ought  always  to  be  acquiesced  in  so  long  as  it  is  confined  to  mer- 
chant ships,  and  to  the  subjects  or  citizens  of  the  impressing  power.  The  sole 
difficulty  on  this  point  is  to  reduce  the  exercise  of  the  right  by  mutual  agree- 
ment, into  convenient  practice.  A state  of  war  ought  never  to  have  been  selected 
as  the  period  for  such  discussion  and  arrangement,  especially  with  England, 
situated  as  she  was:  it  seemed  to  evince  the  ungenerous  determination  to  take 
advantage  of  her  distresses,  in  the  settlement  of  a dispute  on  which  no  influence 
ought  to  be  imposed  but  that  which  arose  from  truth  and  justice.  Besides,  the 
actual  state  of  things  authorized  delay  to  a more  convenient  moment;  it  being 
indubitable  that  the  number  of  British  tars  in  our  service,  very  far  exceeded 
that  of  ours  in  their  employ.  But  I confess  the  last  consideration  is  not  material 
with  me;  for  I am  persuaded  that  wisdom  directs  us  to  confine  ourselves  to  the 
employment  of  our  own  citizens  only  in  our  own  ships,  public  and  private.  It 
would  be  better  to  give  a bounty  to  produce  this  practice  than  to  depend  upon 
any  resource  not  growing  out  of  our  soil  like  our  oaks.  ...  We  come  lastly 


TO  SECURE  THE  BLESSINGS  OF  LIBERTY 


335 


to  consider  the  outrage  on  the  Chesapeak.  It  was  indubitably  an  act  of  hostility, 
and  good  cause  of  war,  had  the  British  government  justified  the  act.  What  was 
the  conduct  of  the  British  government  on  the  occasion?  The  moment  it  was 
known,  its  proper  organ  communicated  it  to  our  minister  in  London,  anxiously 
soliciting  information  on  the  subject;  deploring  the  event,  and  avowing  a readi- 
ness to  make  ample  satisfaction  in  case  the  British  officers  should  have  been 
culpable. 

This  first  step  on  the  part  of  the  aggressor  certainly  merits  approbation.  The 
second  is  in  unison  with  the  first.  The  British  government  abjured  the  preten- 
sion of  a right  to  search  ships  of  war  in  the  national  service  of  any  state,  for 
deserters;  and  declared  that  if  the  act  of  the  British  officers  rested  on  no  other 
ground  than  the  simple  and  unqualified  assertion  of  the  above  pretension,  the 
king  has  no  difficulty  in  disavowing  that  act,  and  will  have  no  difficulty  in  mani- 
festing his  displeasure  at  the  conduct  of  his  officers.  What  could  be  uttered 
better  adapted  to  manifest  the  solemn  determination  of  the  British  govern- 
ment to  render  complete  satisfaction  for  the  outrage  committed  upon  our 
honour  ? . . . 1 

However,  in  numerous  Alexandria  homes  there  was  ceaseless  anxiety 
for  fathers  or  sons,  sailors  on  merchant  vessels,  who  had  been  impressed 
by  British  ships  on  the  high  seas.  Worse  than  this,  other  seamen  from 
Alexandria  had  been  captured  by  pirate  ships  of  the  Barbary  Powers 
and  thrown  into  Algerian  prisons.  These  atrocities  took  place  with  the 
secret  connivance  of  England,  France,  and  Spain. 

What  was  happening  to  people  in  Alexandria  was  happening  to  many 
families  in  other  river  towns  and  seaport  cities  on  the  Atlantic  seaboard. 
By  1812  more  than  a thousand  American-born  seamen  had  been  im- 
pressed into  service  on  British  ships.  But  with  England  crippled  by  its 
war  with  Napoleon,  men  of  the  Federalist  party  hoped,  as  Lee  did,  to 
have  the  wrongs  adjusted  by  other  means  than  war.  Experienced  in  war 
as  Lee  was,  no  man  deprecated  its  coming  more  vehemently  than  he. 
Yet  every  day  the  situation  became  more  tense,  more  threatening. 

The  fair  promise  of  industrial  and  commercial  prosperity  was  not  to 
be  fulfilled.  The  Twelfth  Congress,  opening  its  sessions  in  the  new 
Federal  capital  across  the  Potomac  from  Alexandria,  saw  a new  genera- 
tion of  politicians,  new  sensational  ideas,  and  measures  which  to  Lee’s 
mind  were  ominous  and  boded  ill  for  the  country.  Under  the  leadership 
of  Henry  Clay  and  John  C.  Calhoun,  the  War  Democrats  were  shaping 
legislation  to  fit  an  immediate  state  of  war.  Congress  voted  to  raise  the 
regular  army  from  10,000  to  350,000  men. 

Resistance  of  the  Federalists  to  the  war  measures  of  Congress  and  the 
administration  was  strengthened  by  a series  of  editorials  in  a Baltimore 

1A  Cursory  Sketch  of  the  Motives  and  Proceedings  of  the  Party  which  Sways  the  Affairs 
of  the  Union,  by  General  Henry  Lee.  Philadelphia,  1809.  Pages  22,  23,  24,  25,  28,  29. 


336  STRATFORD  HALL:  THE  GREAT  HOUSE  OF  THE  LEES 

journal,  The  Federal  Republican,  written  by  the  editor,  who  was  also 
the  owner,  a socially  prominent  young  Marylander,  Alexander  Contee 
Hanson.  To  Hanson  Harry  Lee  was  as  devoted  as  if  he  had  been  his 
own  son.  Hanson’s  father,  Lee’s  close  friend,  had  been  the  Chancellor 
of  Maryland  and  compiler  of  the  laws  of  that  state,  published  in  the 
volumes  known  as  "Hanson’s  Laws.”  At  the  beginning  of  his  career  he 
was  an  assistant  secretary  to  General  Washington  and  later  one  of  the 
first  judges  of  the  General  Court  of  Maryland.  Young  Hanson’s  grand- 
father, John  Hanson,  had  also  been  a friend  of  Light-Horse  Harry  Lee, 
of  Richard  Henry,  and  Francis  Lightfoot  Lee.  For  John  Hanson  was 
one  of  the  "founding  fathers”  of  the  nation,  and  on  November  5,  1781, 
had  been  elected  President  of  the  Congress  at  its  first  meeting  after  the 
signing  of  the  Articles  of  Confederation.  A man  of  exceptional  moral 
fibre  and  personal  force  and  decision,  he  had  helped  greatly  to  uphold 
the  morale  of  the  colonies  and  to  steer  them  in  a wise  and  self-respecting 
course.  For  several  generations  the  Hanson  family,  early  settlers  in 
Charles  County,  Maryland,  had  been  friends  of  the  Maryland  branch 
of  the  Lees,  established  by  Philip  Lee,  son  of  the  second  Richard  and 
brother  of  Thomas  and  Henry  Lee.  Associated  in  county,  state,  and 
national  affairs,  the  Hansons  and  the  Maryland  Lees  were  also  con- 
nected by  marriage. 

In  his  editorials,  young  Alexander  Hanson  pointed  out  the  reasons 
why  the  United  States  should  not  plunge  into  war  and  stoutly  opposed 
every  step  taken  by  the  War  Democrats  to  bring  on  the  catastrophe.  The 
Federal  Republican  was  widely  read  and  was  swaying  public  opinion. 
But  there  was  savage  antagonism  to  the  young  editor,  and  he  was 
threatened  with  violence. 

On  June  1 President  Madison  sent  his  war  message  to  Congress. 
Eighteen  days  later  war  was  declared.  Far  from  being  received  with 
enthusiasm  and  acclaim  by  the  nation,  the  declaration  was  a signal  for 
general  mourning.  Ships  in  the  harbors  put  their  flags  at  half-mast;  at 
public  meetings  throughout  the  north  and  east,  resolutions  were  passed 
denouncing  the  war  as  unnecessary  and  ruinous.  A Peace  Party  was 
formed  by  the  Federalists.  But  most  of  the  southern  states  were  in  favor 
of  the  war.  Maryland  was  sharply  divided — Annapolis  was  in  a furore: 
the  State  Senate  passed  resolutions  approving  the  war;  the  House  dis- 
approved them.  Yet  at  the  same  time  the  representatives  passed  resolu- 
tions pledging  their  lives  and  fortunes  in  the  country’s  defence.  In 
Baltimore,  war  hysteria  was  rampant,  and  opposition  against  Hanson 
and  The  Federal  Republican  took  on  dangerous  aspects. 


TO  SECURE  THE  BLESSINGS  OF  LIBERTY 


337 


With  all  the  eloquence  at  his  command,  Hanson  condemned  the  war. 
In  an  editorial  published  in  his  paper  the  day  after  war  was  declared,  he 
said: 

Thou  has  done  a deed  whereat  valour  will  iveep. 

Without  funds,  without  taxes,  without  an  army,  navy,  or  adequate  fortifica- 
tions, with  one  hundred  and  fifty  millions  of  our  property  in  the  hands  of  the 
declared  enemy,  without  any  of  his  in  our  power,  and  with  a vast  commerce 
afloat,  our  rulers  have  promulged  a war,  against  the  clear  and  decided  senti- 
ments of  a vast  majority  of  the  nation.  ...  We  mean  to  represent  in  as  strong 
colors  as  we  are  capable  that  it  is  unnecessary,  inexpedient,  and  entered  into 
from  partial,  personal  motives.  ...  We  mean  to  use  every  constitutional 
argument  and  every  legal  means  to  render  as  odious  and  suspicious  to  the 
American  people,  as  they  deserve  to  be,  the  patrons  and  contrivers  of  this  highly 
impolitic  and  destructive  war,  in  the  fullest  persuasion  that  we  shall  be  sup- 
ported and  ultimately  applauded  by  nine  tenths  of  our  countrymen,  and  that 
our  silence  would  be  treason  to  them.  . . . 

His  emphatic  words  were  answered  by  meetings  throughout  the  city, 
at  which  the  War  Democrats  and  city  officials  harangued  the  people 
against  Hanson’s  views  and  put  forth  the  idea  of  suppressing  his  paper 
by  violence.  Several  hundred  men  and  boys,  armed  with  axes,  hooks, 
and  ropes,  surrounded  the  office  of  The  Federal  Republican,  a frame 
building  at  Second  and  Gay  streets.  Smashing  doors  and  windows,  thev 
seized  the  presses,  type,  and  paper,  and  flung  them  into  the  street  to  be 
destroyed.  They  tore  down  the  entire  building,  board  by  board.  The 
death  of  one  of  their  own  gang,  killed  by  a fall  from  the  second  story, 
increased  their  wrath. 

Hanson  had  taken  temporary  refuge  in  the  village  of  Rockville.  His 
staff  had  also  left  the  city.  The